Get kids cooking proper food
Updated: Mar 5
Cookery often got overlooked at school, but when I had the classes I was making things like scones and cheesecake…not exactly the answer to the national child obesity problem.
We all know Jamie Oliver has worked towards fixing what school dinners look like (turkey twizzlers spring to mind), but what about the issue of what kids are learning to cook when they’re actually at school?
There were attempts in 2013 from Michael Gove to launch campaigns getting kids to learn 20 dishes before their GCSEs, but this doesn’t seem to be really taking off, as many classes are still focused on making desserts rather than anything healthy and substantial.
Learning to bake is all well and good, but this seems like a massive contradiction to me. What is the point of forcing kids to eat good meals at schools, if then all they’re learning to cook is sweet treats?
They might still want to spend all their lunch money on chocolate and pizza whilst at school, but in the long run it will be so much better for them if they learn to make a few basic meals such as casseroles, curry and spaghetti bolognese.
The issue of obesity all starts with the ability to cook. If you know how to cook healthy meals from a young age, then you don’t end up relying on ready meals and takeaways.
Starting this at school means that when those children grow up and have their own children, they are cooking healthy meals automatically, so obesity rates should reduce organically.
Education is the answer.
Right now, almost one in five children are overweight or obese when they start primary school. This statistic is showing an issue that starts at home. If children grow up eating rubbish, and then learn to make more unhealthy food at school – what hope is there for obesity going down?
You have to tackle this from the source. If the parents know how to cook then they’ll feed their kids well. Not knowing how to cook good food is dangerous - without this you become reliant on junk food.
This isn’t just an issue for health either. Junk food and ready meals don’t come cheap. If you’re living off this kind of food, your budget will take a big hit. When I went to uni, I couldn’t believe how incapable some people were of cooking basic meals. Yes they enjoyed Deliveroo for the first couple of weeks, but then their money was running out and the next student loan was a LONG way off (what followed was a lot of pasta!)
One lady that previsouly worked as a home economics teacher at a school got in touch with me when she saw the first copy of this piece in the local paper.
She said, "it is a sensible and sadly accurate article about how kids are not learning to cook useful dishes.
"The problems home tech teachers face are that if children don't want to make a dish, they either skip school that day or 'forget' their ingredients."
She then went on to say how excuses are made such as 'my family won't eat it' or 'we can't afford it' - something that never comes up as an issue if something sweet is on the agenda.
"Everyone wants to make sweet things."
A number of home economic teachers insisted on it being put on the national curriculum, a move that would cause the contents of the subject to be taken more seriously, but she said, "although it is a life skill, the arguments were ignored, and now we're paying the price."
She finished, "If children learnt to plan, shop, cook, and servie some simple meals - it would be great."
Now I’m not here to ban baking, I love the Great British Bake Off as much as the next person, but one significant step towards healthy kids, and therefore a healthier generation, is making sure they leave school being able to cook a handful of healthy meals that will see them through school and beyond.