With millions of Britons sticking to these shores this summer, parents will be desperate for novel ways to keep their children busy which don’t include hours spent in front of screens.
Good news, then, for the rising number of cooking kits and courses out there aimed at helping children to learn a vital life skill, have fun in the process, and produce something delicious for the rest of the family to eat.
One person spearheading the drive to get children of all ages cooking is Amanda Grant, co-founder of Cook School, a nationwide operation that offers accessible and affordable cookery lessons for students aged between five and 19.
Grant’s background is in children’s food writing. “I’ve always been passionate about getting children to cook,” she explains. “But that’s not always something parents see as an easy thing.”
Founded in 2018, Cook School's main focus was to organise after-school clubs or all-day events in schools, where children would cook recipes from beginning to end and take home the dish to devour.
Key skills such as peeling, chopping, grating and learning to use a knife are all covered, providing the building blocks for children to become proficient in the kitchen. Grant's aim is for children to learn to cook independently, and take those skills, which can lead to a healthier lifestyle, into adulthood.
Now, Grant has launched a recipe box (from £20) for children to cook at home, an idea that has been a long time in the planning but was finally propelled by the pandemic which saw kids stuck indoors for months on end. Boxes include ingredients for a meal for four, the recipe to follow step by step, and a QR code to a video tutorial demonstrated by a fellow child.
This summer, Cook School has teamed up with a number of celebrated restaurants and chefs to produce special boxes, including Vietnamese chain Pho, Junior Bake Off presenter Ravneet Gill, and zero-waste restaurant Silo.
For more information, visit shop.cookschool.club
Five other recipe kits to keep children entertained this summer
Available via a subscription or individual kits, Little Cooks offers an extensive range of enticing children’s cooking recipes. Despite its specific strength in the baking department, there is a wide variety of dishes on offer from their several boxes. Think gnocchi, pesto (with basil-growing kits thrown in) and more.
The “Summer Cooking Camp At Home” (£90) features an impressive range of items to get your child excited about cooking. Included are utensils, an apron, a cookbook and seven recipes with dry organic ingredients.
Sid and Nancy is a cookery academy aimed at children aged four to 14 that's run on a subscription model. From £40 for a three-month subscription, a recipe box is delivered every month, through which kids will learn an array of skills and dishes.
Each box comes with three recipe cards with illustrated step-by-step methods to feed a family of four, an ingredients list, a creative challenge that’s different every time, and “kids collectibles”: cards that include fun food facts, jokes and conversation starters designed to get children talking about food.
The SORTEDfood app is an easy-to-follow recipe app designed with all ages in mind. The premise is simple: choose a meal pack of between three and five recipes each week, check the shopping list, and pick up the ingredients in your usual way.
While there are a number of meal packs, the best-value version has been created with families in mind over the summer holidays. These include meals for three to four people for under £1.40 a head, and have been designed to get children helping. Recipes include the likes of creamy chicken curry, cheese and tomato risotto and smoky bean chilli with wedges.
Lola’s Cupcakes has shops across London and the south east, and has become a firm favourite of the sweet-treat crowd, with a strong presence in train stations.
Its delicious bakes can now be recreated at home thanks to these bake-at-home kits, which are child-friendly and easy to make. A standout is the chocolate brownie kit, available in both vegan and non-vegan options (both £24.99), which makes for an indulgent summer treat. Other kits that provide fun for children include a cupcake decorating kit and a cake decorating kit.
This option marries baking with activities. In what the company has dubbed the Six Weeks of Summer Make & Bake Challenge, children who sign up are provided with a downloadable recipe each week, alongside an activity (£25 for two kits). So, along with bakes such as seaside cupcakes, chocolate rainbow blondies and vanilla ice cream, children can spend their time enjoying a craft week, games week or camping week.