#30daywritingchallenge: Day 10- Teaching Children To Cook.

My latest challenge is to write about something which I feel strongly about. I just wish I had the money and the power to do something about it. It is getting children to gain life skills, especially by teaching them to cook. Nowadays it all seems it’s Literacy and Numeracy in schools and nothing else seems to matter. But life skills, such as cooking should be a priority. After all, we all have to eat!

Now, I’m not trying to do a Jamie Oliver (even though I have a lot of respect for the guy) and tell everyone that they shouldn’t use convienience foods or get a takeaway on the way home from work. After all, life is so busy and hectic nowadays that people feel shattered when they get home. The last thing you sometimes feel like is to be cooking a dinner from scratch. Who doesn’t need a few shortcuts now and again?

What I think is useful is if children are taught to cook basic meals from an early age and have a repetoire of recipes to fall back on, then when they grow up and have to cook for themselves they don’t have to rely on takeaways or pre-packaged dinners. Not only that, but you will be more aware of what you are putting inside your body.

I was born in the 1970s and I remember my mum cooking most meals from scratch with the odd shortcut like a cooking sauce. We would have fish fingers and burgers now and again. But things began to change when my mum went back to work full time as a teacher and we got a microwave. This would have been about 1985 when the ready made meal revolution began to kick in. I do remember Home Economics lessons at school and we were taught to make lots of different things. It isn’t the same everywhere, though. By the time my children went to school they did not have a single cookery lesson in primary school, except my son made some Christmas biscuits once. When they were at secondary school they had Food Technology and I don’t remember much cooking going on there. My daughter was meant to make fruit salad in her first food tech lesson at school and left her fruit on the school bus!

As soon as I had children I wanted to teach them skills that I had been taught as a child. This included teaching them how to cook. I wanted them to be able to cook a meal for themselves and to enjoy cooking together as a family. This also included baking. This, in turn would help them out so that they could pass on their skills and knowledge to their families when they are older. Unfortunately, it is all too easy nowadays to buy ready made stuff or to order a takeaway, especially with apps such as Just Eat which deliver to you. We do have the odd takeaway or some fish and chips but living where we do, no apps deliver to us. So my daughter was in her element when she discovered Just Eat when she went off to uni, despite all my best efforts to show her how to cook. Thankfully, though the novelty has well and truly worn off and she saves money by cooking lots of frugal and healthy meals using a couple of useful student recipe books I bought for her.

My son has no interest in cooking at the moment, even though he has been taught to cook various meals. When he has cooked things in the past, they have tasted wonderful. I just want to encourage people to cook and to gain enjoyment from producing something homemade. Having said that, when you get in from work absolutely exhausted, the last thing you want to do is to get the frying pan out. But I think my slow cooker is the most wonderful invention for those nights.

I am so passionate about teaching children to cook and passing on my enthusiasm for it, that I got to run an After School Cookery Club at the school where I worked at in a permanent job for eight years. Three of those years were spent running a weekly club where children came to cook traditional and favourite meals and recipes with me after school. If appropriate, the children got to eat their creations at the end of the session. I felt proud seeing the children sat there around the table tucking into meals like spaghetti carbonara, vegetable soup and muffins that they had created themselves. What’s more, they were so excited that I used to write up the recipes for them and they had their own special recipe folder to keep them in. When I bumped into one of my ex-pupils the other week, she said how much she had enjoyed my cookery club and how she still remembers how to cook spaghetti bolognese. Another mum said she couldn’t get her son to eat tuna until he came along to my cookery club!

In an ideal world I would love to have premises where I could run cookery clubs and lessons for adults and children alike. Adults can come along and learn to cook the things they weren’t taught at school because the curriculum had changed. Or to gain the skills their parents hadn’t taught them because they didn’t learn themselves previously. Students could learn some basic skills before going off to uni or children could come along and have themed cooking sessions, such as a Christmas baking one. But lack of space at home prevents me from doing this and also a lack of finances. I need to sit down and work out how I can do this but I really want to be able to help.

Answers on a postcard please. How can I do this without needing lots of money?

Sam xx

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