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Developing life skills through cooking

20 May 2021

Our Cookalong4Families programme, which runs as part of Family Action’s Holiday Hub clubsgives young people and their families the chance to cook and eat a wide range of tasty dishes together, using videos and handouts to help them.  

Here teenager Vincent explains how his family’s encouragement to ‘get cooking’ has helped him to develop a love of preparing food and better understand the benefits of a home-cooked meal during lockdown.

Over the past few months, I have spent more time in the kitchen cooking as a way to stay occupied during lockdown. It began when my mum encouraged me to take part in a ‘cookalong and arranged to get Cookalong recipe kit. 

I received the ingredients as well as printed and online video instructions for three meals, which were easy to follow. Using the video as I could pause it and restart it when I needed to – which was great as, although I had cooked a few times with my dad, these were the first big meals I made on my own. My parents say they’ve loved having me cook for them and my mum has even said she’s been inspired to try some meals she wouldn’t have thought of herself.

I think learning how to cook is an important life skill for everyone and would definitely recommend that everyone gives it a try!

As well as cooking for the family, I also cooked some meals to share with my girlfriend and, as she is Italian, I was especially pleased when I was able to impress her with homemade gnocchi, cooked from scratch! Making gnocchi was a complicated process as you have to mash potato and mix it with flour to make a dough – I definitely found it to be the most unusual of the three cookalongs I prepared. The chicken stir-fry was my favourite meal to cook and found it interesting to follow the recipe as I know everyone makes their stir-fry unique. I also loved the chicken served with fiery sauce and rice – it was simple to make, but tasted very good. 

I would recommend cookalongs to new and experienced cooks as I think this is a really great way to develop life skills, like learn how to cook new foods. The cookalong has helped me learn new recipes and techniques, and now I cook all of these dishes regularly.  

Since learning the recipes I am more aware in the kitchen and pay extra attention when my parents cook and, through the cookalongs, I’ve also learnt more about safe cooking – and would also suggest paying extra attention when cooking meat as it is important to prepare food safely. I asked my dad to help me with the chicken when making the cookalongs just to be safe. Some advice I would offer to those new to cooking would be to get organised – and wash up as you go along. It’s amazing how quickly dishes can pile up! 

The cookalong has inspired me to try new things and the next challenge I would like to make is a dish I have often watched my dad cook which I feel personally connected to. My first experience in the kitchen was when I was 14-year-old, watching my dad make interesting recipes from Liverpool, and I’d love to make a Scouse, hearty Liverpool stew, which is typically made with chunks of meat, potato and onion. I think learning how to cook is an important life skill for everyone and would definitely recommend that everyone gives it a try!

If you’d like to get your child engaged in cooking why not get started by taking a look at some of our Cookalong videos.