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Jamie Oliver’s Top Tips for Family Meals

by Lottie Huckle

published on 1 September 2016

Jamie Oliver shares the secrets of a successful family mealtime with this revealing Q&A, inspired by his Super Food Family Classics cookbook, which is bursting with delicious recipes that are guaranteed to go down well with everyone at the table. This family-focused Q&A is jam-packed with advice and suggestions directly from Jamie himself, from his thoughts on weekly shopping lists to who’s cooking the kids prefer.

From the book

Do you do a weekly shopping list?

We definitely do a weekly shopping list, then on a Saturday I always go to the market. I don’t have to go but I just like to get amongst it – pick up fish and talk to the fishmonger and go the butchers. I also think one of the best educations you can give your kids, or frankly your friends or flatmate, or whoever you’re sharing your life with – is to take them to a farmers market if they don’t know about food so they can just absorb knowledge by meeting those lovely market people. You don’t even have to try or buy stuff – I like my kids hearing the conversations and seeing that there’s choice out there. If you show people respect, they might just give you tries and tastes in return. So, yeah, we have a plan, but we like to break the plan, too!

Who cooks at home, you or Jools?

So, me and Jools cook about the same each at home. If I’m home I’ll always cook because it’s lovely and I enjoy it – it’s nice to say thank you to the missus and give her a bit of love. If I’m not home Jools is all over it. She’s always been really focused – as I’m sure many mums and dads are about feeding their kids and getting the good stuff in them. There’s nothing more profoundly obvious when you put good food into a kid and you see them growing and flourishing – that’s clear from day one. Jools is pretty good at it, but I would like to think the kids prefer my food! I think they do, I mean they might protectively say they prefer hers for certain scenarios, but mine has got better flavour, I’m telling you honestly!

Do you remember the first meal you ever cooked?

I remember the first meal I cooked. I wasn’t a particularly bright kid at school, and my project work at primary school wasn’t up to scratch – but I could do a roast dinner. I remember my old man giving me a pat on the back, and it was just the best feeling ever, for lots of reasons. My kids started getting involved with cooking from day one – they’ve just always been around it. I’ve only a couple of times tried to brainwash them with cooking, from growing stuff, to seeing cooking. Even seeing cooking once a week gives them an education in life.

How do you get your kids to eat food they don’t like?

Getting people to like things they say they hate whether it’s kids or adults is all kind of the same strategy. Often people hate things because of a bad experience – over-cooked food, under-seasoned food, food boiled to hell or dodgy textures. One of the best things I loved doing when I visited primary schools for School Dinners was I would say ‘hands up if you love beetroots?’ and no one would but their hand up. One lonely kid would bravely say ‘yeah I like beetroots!’ then I’d spend half an hour doing incredible roasted beetroots, shaved beetroots with lemon juice, balsamic, a pinch of sea salt and olive oil. I’d have ten little recipes or methods up my sleeve, then at the end I’d ask ‘how many of you like beetroot?’ and at least three-quarters of the class would be like yeah I’m on it! It’s nice to go from someone who was a hater to a lover – you’ve just got to show them new ways to enjoy stuff.

For more tips, tricks and delicious family recipes, check out Jamie’s brilliant cookbook Super Food Family Classics


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