How to sprinkle some cooking and baking into your child’s homeschooling
Looking for ways to mix up your child's homeschooling day? If your child (or you) are in need of a break then look no further and there's still some education to be had! BBC Food can help you get your children learning life skills, whilst touching on some elements of the school curriculum and having some fun. You won’t need a huge cupboard full of ingredients or lots of special equipment to make these easy recipes. There's ideas for both primary and secondary school aged children.
Cookies and cakes are great fun to make and an easy win with kids, but if you’re looking for something a little different, we’ve put together some healthier ideas and ways they can fit with your child’s learning.
Banana ice cream
When you’re truly sick of banana bread, this easy banana ice cream uses up very ripe bananas and is a great healthy treat. Better yet, there’s just one ingredient – bananas! Even the youngest children can help chop up bananas with a table knife. Take it further with the sauce ideas (full disclosure: not healthy), and sprinkles will maximise the fun factor. If you haven’t got a blender, we also have a no-churn berry ice cream that’s a little less healthy but very delicious!
Three ingredients: flour, salt and oil, mixed with water and you can make your own wraps for lunch. Kids will enjoy mixing the sticky dough and rolling it out. They even puff up dramatically in the frying pan. It’s a great way to see how the water in the dough transforms into steam which rises up and creates bubbles in the dough. A tin of beans and some cheese and you can make these easy quesadillas.
These American pancakes are a great first recipe for primary school aged children to make independently. Younger ones can measure and mix the batter, while older ones could be ready to cook them carefully. Try to give your child space to explore cracking eggs, a skill they can master surprisingly well with practice. If you want to combine cooking practice with lunch, try these ham and cheese pancakes
Eggs truly are a wonderful tool for teaching kitchen science. Never sure how long to boil one for? That’s because there’s no one answer. Try boiling eggs for different lengths of time to discover the result: 6, 8 and 9 minutes will all yield good outcomes. If you have a box of eggs of mixed sizes, you can see how the time is affected by size. You could have one egg at room temperature and one egg fridge-cold and see how this impacts the result. The softer centres are brilliant for topping a salad and the harder centres make a great egg mayonnaise sandwich.
It’s every kid’s dream to make a fortune at their own lemonade stand. Social distancing may have stopped passing trade, but parents, carers and siblings can help kids calculate costs and change for a lunchtime homemade lemonade stand.
This is our completely unofficial approach to teaching food technology. At a secondary level, your own child’s teachers may have set work for practical lessons. These recipes are simple and cover a range of skills. If possible, give your older kids space to cook without taking over at the hard bits. This applies to the washing up, too!
This blueberry muffin recipe is a great one for kids to make independently. As well as key cooking skills like measuring, sifting and creaming butter and sugar, they can be creative with fillings and experiment with flavours. Banana and nuts, cinnamon and chopped apple, frozen fruit of all kinds can be used in the basic mix.
Tuna pasta salad
After a little help with draining the boiling pasta, and this tuna pasta salad recipe is great for kids to make their own. There’s plenty of space to explore chopping, grating and ribboning vegetables, plus adding herbs and ingredients they like.
Explore food from another culture with this really easy falafel recipe, complete with an easy hummus recipe that doesn’t require any special equipment or ingredients. Explore the full range of chopping with different grips, blending, baking in the oven, garnishing and healthy eating. Of course, if you want to hold them to authenticity you could make a full-on Syrian-inspired falafel feast.
Mac and cheese
If your kids can make a white sauce, they’re set up to cook so many dishes. They can even start to take on cooking dinner! This straight-up basic mac and cheese recipe has a 1-minute video walk through of the basic cheese sauce to pour over cooked pasta. Or follow on from the tuna pasta salad and use your cheese sauce skills in a tuna pasta bake.
There are also ways that cooking can give young people pointers for other secondary school subjects.
Good news! Cake can help kids understand the difference between weight and volume. You can use a clean yoghurt pot to measure out the ingredients for this easy yoghurt cake. Weighing the ingredients after they’ve been measured in the pot shows how different ingredients may have the same volume but different weights. Of course if you don’t have a set of scales, you can still bake and eat the cake.
Show your kids how they can improve on the fast food they’re missing by creating their own customised burger recipe. Scale this recipe up to work out how much of the ingredients you would need to sell to your classmates, tally how much money it would cost and how much you could sell each burger for. If they’re more of a chicken nugget kid, you could work out how much goes into a box of 6, 9 or 20 nuggets. This is also a great recipe for mastering the pané method (that’s breadcrumbing to you and me).
No two cooks can agree on the best way to poach an egg. Swirl the water to create a vortex? Add vinegar? Strain the runny whites in a tea strainer? Watch our 1-minute how to poach eggs video that compares two methods, then see if you can recreate it. Which do you prefer? If you’ve got older kids, they might be ready to explore the dynamic chemical reaction that happens when making honeycomb. This is not for the faint-hearted, and we wholly advocate helicopter-parent levels of supervision. But there’s nothing like the volcanic foam that sets to honeycomb to demonstrate how acids and alkalines react.
Kids can find out how what we eat changed during WWII and make real wartime foods: apple crumble and toad in the hole. Or try a 1960s historic picnic favourite and pretend you’re in The Crown: coronation chicken.
Food innovations came late to the Industrial revolution, but saw several long-lasting food products you may find in your cupboard. Nicolas Appert invented canning as a preservation method in France during the early 19th century, ensuring we could make tinned tomato pasta sauce all year round. Alfred Bird’s custard powder and Gail Borden’s condensed milk both have great origin stories to research, and are used in Nadiya Hussain’s delicious Rhubarb and custard ice cream sandwiches.
There are plenty of online resources to help you research food history in different eras.