DT and Cooking
We highly value food education at PPS and are fortunate to work with some passionate and talent parent volunteers who share our vision of ensuring children leave us knowing how to prepare a healthy meal. We dedicate half a term to each year group to focus on food learning, linking experiences to their topic questions. These sessions allow children to develop general kitchen skills as well as increase their awareness of a range of tastes and textures of food and discover more about the history and culture of the foods we eat.
TastEd is a programme that is delivered at Prendergast, aiming to help children learn to love eating fruit and veg through exploring it with their senses.
In every TastEd lesson at Prendergast around half of the children try a new vegetable and often like it! In some classes, a few children totally change their minds about certain vegetables, from saying they hate it, to actually liking it. And at the end of each lesson, children always ask for leftovers and more vegetables to try.
Children do enjoy vegetables and can learn to like more. Below are some tips for how to continue and build on this learning at home from our expert Kim McGowen. These are based on research about how to improve children’s eating habits, TastEd’s approach and 5 years of teaching food education.
- Our tastes continue to change throughout our lives. Our taste preferences are not fixed. We can learn to like different foods, often through repeated exposure to new ingredients and dishes. Research shows that it takes up to 10 tastes of a food to learn to like it. Children’s food preferences are not permanent, so keep trying.
- KEEP offering new foods to your children! Research shows that parents often stop offering children new foods after 3 tries, so don’t give up too early.
- Trusted adults and peers are powerful influences on children’s food choices so make sure you gently demonstrate that you like vegetables and trying new foods to show your children that it’s normal.
- Make trying new foods a family affair. Find a fruit or vegetable none of you have tried and try it together and discuss what you think of it.
- Children LOVE to talk about foods they like and dislike but often focus on why they don’t like a certain food. It may be that they only like raw carrots rather than cooked.
- Use the senses to explore and discuss foods to understand what it is your child likes or dislikes - ask them why?
- Textures of foods have a huge influence on whether children like or dislike a food. For example, your child may really like crunchy or soft foods, or they may like cooked, not raw tomatoes (very common). Once you know this, you could possibly adapt meal times to accommodate their preferences, whilst still offering things they might not be so keen on.
- At TastEd one of the golden rules is “You don’t have to try” which can seem a little counterintuitive. When encouraged to eat something, children often refuse, but when you say you don’t have to try it, sometimes, children’s innate curiosity will take over. In TastEd we talk about using all our senses to explore new foods. So, smelling, listening, touching and even licking new foods can be a great way to take baby steps in trying new foods.
- Always celebrate and reward children for being brave in trying new foods. Talk about how even adults can feel a little worried about trying new foods and that is totally normal for everyone. (Think about being on holiday and how you feel when offered unfamiliar foods).
- Try exploring new foods away from meal times. Snack times are often more gentle times to try something. Offer something new with a favourite food.
- Get children involved in shopping, preparing and cooking food. Simply selecting, handling, chopping and a cheeky taste when cooking helps to familiarise them with a new food. Many times when cooking with children at school, children would change their mind about a food they thought they hated.
- Most of all… don’t give up. Learning to enjoy different foods is a lifelong journey.
TastEd - videos and resources with activities for children to explore fruit and veg using their senses.
First Bite by Bee Wilson - very interesting book that explores why we eat, and how we can change
Tiny Tastes - a scheme for fussy eaters based on trying 1cm pieces of foods.
Babyled weaning by Gill Rapley - a great book that encourages babies and toddlers to explore the whole foods (not purees)
Veg based cookbooks for children
- Green Kids Cook by Jenny Chandler
- Little Green Kitchen by David Frenkiel
- The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat