Cookery Groups For Parents
No matter how long you’ve been cooking, when your family expands you’ll have a whole new set of challenges to deal with. Weaning babies and ensuring that your fussy toddlers get a balanced diet can be tough! For new parents and anyone who cooks for a fussy eater, a cookery group is a great way to boost confidence and improve skills. A cookery group gives you the opportunity to share problems and ideas with other parents.
Meeting 1 - Learning About NutritionYou probably know about the basic food groups, but it can be useful to have a resource for your family. Draft a wall-chart at your cookery group meeting and then designate one member to reproduce and laminate copies for everyone to use at home. Pinned to the fridge at home, it should be a source of quick inspiration and daily guidance. Your wall-chart might include:
- The ‘Eatwell’ Plate: This is an idea developed by the Food Standards Agency. It illustrates the amounts of different food groups that we should eat each day. It’s a great visual aid for parents and children.
- Get your Vitamins: Information about foods that are rich in vitamins, which are important for growing children – from calcium to vitamin C. You could include a list of ‘superfoods’ as well as ideas about incorporating these into a diet.
- Quick-Fix Breakfasts: Ask your group to bring along their best ideas for speedy breakfasts that everyone will enjoy. You could include fast recipes for oaty chew bars, banana smoothies, and fruit salads.
- Lunchbox Solutions: The lunchbox is every parent’s daily torment! Ask your group members to each bring a recipe for something that their children like for lunch – focusing on easy, healthy things like pasta salad, chicken wraps and homemade flapjacks. Write up these ‘classic’ recipes on your chart for day-to-day use.
Tastings and Recipe SharingYour cookery group meetings can take different formats, according to the level of skill and knowledge of your members.
- Guest Speaker evenings: See if you can recruit a speaker from your local school, farm, or restaurant, who will be able to share their knowledge. Try contacting places that serve children. You will have to split the speaker’s fee between members, so discuss it at group first.
- Bring-a-Bowl meetings: This is where you allocate a different dish to each member and get to share your cooking and recipes. Choose a theme for each meeting, whether it’s lunchbox ideas, ten-minute teas, or cooking with broccoli! Make sure that members bring their recipes so that you can all benefit.
- Tastings with children: Keep these meetings short and sweet! They are a good way to encourage your children to try new foods in a sociable atmosphere.
Involve the Children Too!Involving the children in shopping and preparation will give them a more enthusiastic approach to the food they eat. Your group is a great place to develop and discover ideas about involving the children.
- Arrange a family activity now and again – take the children to a kitchen garden, have them shaping burgers at a beach barbecue, or hold a bring-a-bowl picnic.
- Host a ‘cookery party’ at a member’s house, and get the children to make their own party tea. They can mix and roll sausage rolls, top mini pizzas and cut and decorate their own cookies!
- Recommend or trade children’s cookery books that you have tried and liked.
- Make sure that you bring enough food so that each member can take a little something home for their children to taste.
- Stage an ‘Eat More Veg’ event, at which members could bring dishes that disguise or improve on most-hated vegetables. How about Brussels sprouts pizza or broccoli and cheese soup? Get the children to make decorations and play games with vegetables!