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Food Week targets young 'kitchen strangers'

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Food Week targets young 'kitchen strangers'

Food Week kicks off for a third year on Monday. The New Zealand Nutrition Foundation’s (NZNF) annual campaign is about building confidence in the kitchen and teaching Kiwis that cooking at home can be affordable and delicious.

The spotlight this year is on young Kiwis who are increasingly becoming kitchen strangers. Research from the most recent New Zealand Children’s Food and Drink Survey found that only eight per cent of children regularly helped with cooking.

"This is a seriously worrying trend as we know there is less of a focus on learning cooking skills in the school curriculum these days," says Sarah Hanrahan, Nutritionist for the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation. "This parallels an increase in food insecurity in our young people and a loss of basic kitchen and cooking knowledge. It also means the home has to become the place young Kiwis learn these essential life skills."

Hanrahan says there are a number of reasons behind the results including time poor parents who are working full time, the kitchen being perceived as an ‘adults only’ area, financial pressure, increased prevalence of takeaways and fast food and the loss of cooking skills in previous generations.

"Time is a huge factor for parents," she says. "It might take twice as long if you leave your kids to cook the evening meal - not to mention the mess that’s going to be left after their kitchen enthusiasm. However if we can start taking time to get our young people interested in cooking and more confident in the kitchen, we will be giving them an important tool to use in maintaining good health and independence."

The NZNF Just Cook programme incorporates four initiatives;

- the Just Cook Academy

- the Just Cook Create a Family Meal Challenge

- the Just Cook Interactive Kitchen app,,

- Just Cook community resource kits

The Just Cook Academy is a new initiative; a pilot which will focus on secondary school youth and the barriers they face to getting in the kitchen and cooking. The pilot will be a series of workshops that challenge students to think about cooking at home as the first step to nutritional well-being.

The NZNF is holding the Just Cook Create a Family Meal Challenge again this year to encourage students to create an original, delicious and affordable meal for their family from the ingredients on the Just Cook Food List

The Just Cook community kits provided by the NZNF will provide resources to over 100 community and health organisations across New Zealand to help them hold events within their local communities. The events range from cooking demonstrations, to health lectures and cooking on a budget classes.

Food Week partners include Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Sanitarium Nutrition Service, Watties,,, Eggs Inc, Harraways, Maggi, San Remo, Tegel, Tip Top Bakery, Continental, Kenwood, Youthtown and the New Zealand Healthy Food Guide.

The New Zealand Nutrition Foundation has created a list of ideas to inspire parents and children to cook when time and energy allow:

- Teach children about easy meals that don’t require an element or oven- like scrambled eggs in the microwave

- Involve children in meal planning for the week, look at recipes together

- Let older children prepare a component of the meal like preparing the vegetables before parents get home

- Let children prepare meals using ready-made sauces and packet ingredients as a way to get them started

- Baking can be a good way to get children interesting in cooking

- Spend time in the weekend experimenting in the kitchen when time and cleaning up mess aren’t such an issue - a perfect activity for a wet winter’s day!

- Use the Just Cook Interactive Kitchen for easy-to-prepare recipes that are inspired by basic household ingredients

- Get your children to enter the Just Cook Create a Family Meal Challenge, their ideas could win them an iPod Touch or Nano

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