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Canny Kitchen’s family food: tips and recipe

TheSchoolBus blog this week is brought to you by our new catering and cookery expert contributor, The Canny Kitchen… Let’s get cooking!

Encouraging young people to get involved with cooking and try out new, healthy foods can be an experiment in itself. Here are a few Canny Kitchen tips for you to try to help your pupils engage with, and be excited about, their food:

  1. Try a new healthy food at least once a week

Every week, why not ask one of your pupils to go shopping with a parent and choose one healthy food they’ve never tried before and then bring it in to cook in class? It’s a good idea to encourage them to combine it with a food they know they like.

  1. Ask pupils to look for ‘special offer’ fruits and vegetables at their local supermarket or greengrocer every week

Ask pupils to find a food they’ve never tried to eat or cook with before each week for £1. Then look for a recipe that could include this ‘new’ ingredient – a recipe that sounds tasty and fun to make with your pupils; maybe have a look on the internet (such as on the BBC Good Food website). Then make the dish together for them to take home and serve to the whole family − maybe at the weekend or during a school holiday − and just see how much your pupils will enjoy this and look forward to doing it again, in school and at home.

  1. Start to grow your own herbs together

Encourage your pupils to visit the local garden centre with a parent and choose herbs, such as mint, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and chives, and plant either on your classroom windowsill or in pots in the school grounds. You and your pupils can also enjoy using them in homemade soups and stews!

Image from Canny Kitchen
Image from Canny Kitchen

The Canny Kitchen’s 12 tips for making food fun, healthy and economical for children (and adults)!

  1. Make apple ‘thins’ for pupils as a snack – finely sliced apples, dusted in cinnamon and baked until crisp make a great healthy snack.
  2. Put half a banana on a lolly stick, roll in chopped nuts and freeze, to make a great cooling and healthy snack.
  3. Get in the regular habit of encouraging pupils to help make their own meals at home.
  4. As young children’s palates are fairly simple, keep everything separate on their plate so that they can decide how to eat it.
  5. Present foods in an amusing way – roll rice into balls, make a face on the plate, serve fruit salad in paper cups.
  6. Get pupils to help make up a ‘picnic’ of healthy foods − savoury and sweet and put a picnic tablecloth and special picnic-style plates, bowls and cups on the table for them to help themselves to foods.
  7. Children find miniature foods appealing – like pitta pizzas, mini pancakes, mini shaped sandwiches and mini muffins.
  8. Let pupils choose their own cutlery − form a container of knives, forks and spoons and get them to help set the table (take turns with this task).
  9. Get pupils to help make up a mixed fresh juice drink – well diluted with water. Keep this in the refrigerator for when they are thirsty (just stir well each time before serving).
  10. Involve the pupils in preparing fruit salad or fruit slices or chunks (so much more fun, quick and cheaper than buying ready-made fruit pots).
  11. Don’t have ready-made ‘pop’, squash or carbonated drinks available (if they aren’t available, no one will have them). Instead, serve chilled tap water, well-diluted fruit juice or milk, and if they like a sparkling drink for a treat why not combine a little fruit juice or slices of fresh fruits with sparkling bottled water?
  12. Make up a large amount of bolognese-type minced beef from scratch and separate into a few batches, label, chill for an hour or so, and freeze in containers. Later, defrost in refrigerator and make into chilli con carne, pasta bolognese, lasagne etc.

Recipe: Baked Chicken in a Creamy Tomato Sauce with Fresh Pasta

(Suitable to freeze after cooking before adding pasta)

(Serves 4)


4 x large chicken breast fillets (sliced into roughly 3 pieces per breast fillet)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tins premium chopped tomatoes in juice or one large bottle/jar passata

1 medium onion (finely chopped)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs e.g. basil, or half a teaspoon of dried oregano, basil or mixed herbs

1 teaspoon garlic purée

1 tablespoon tomato purée

Salt, white pepper and freshly ground black pepper (mill) to taste

1 teaspoon chilli flakes or lazy chilli in oil

4 large button mushrooms (optional) (sliced and fried in a little oil − cooked and browned in advance)

1 large green or yellow pepper (optional) (diced and cooked in a little water in microwave in advance)

Approx. 500g fresh pasta (e.g. Tagliatelli)

Approx. 250g double cream (not whipped)

Fresh basil leaves to serve (optional)

Freshly grated parmesan cheese and freshly baked garlic bread to serve + pepper mill


Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6/200 degrees centigrade and place the sliced chicken breast fillets onto a baking tray covered with tin foil.

Drizzle some olive oil and seasoning onto the chicken and then add the chilli flakes or lazy chilli to each slice. Cover fully with foil and bake in the oven for approx. 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through.

Meanwhile, make up the tomato sauce by sweating the finely chopped onion in olive oil in a large pan, adding the garlic purée, then adding the chopped tinned tomatoes or passata, herbs and seasoning. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly, and then blend with a stick blender until smooth. Stir in the cooked mushrooms and cooked peppers and then remove from the heat and stir in the double cream. Gently heat the sauce for a minute or two and check for seasoning.

Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and fold in to the sauce in the pan (including juices). Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Fold the chicken in sauce into the cooked fresh pasta and serve with freshly milled black pepper, freshly grated parmesan cheese and baked garlic bread slices.




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