The slow and low method of cooking al fresco is a great way to tear the kids away from their games consoles and into the gardens to spend an afternoon with the family. Not only this, but if you’re a parent faced with the frustrations of fussy eaters, a Great British BBQ is the perfect way to get them trying a variety of meat and all manner of veg too.
Most children are inherently curious about cooking, and find barbecues fascinating due to the novelty of eating their tea outside and of course, being able to see and smell their dinner cooking from flames. It’s natural for parents to worry about the safety of their children playing around lit BBQs, but rather than denying them the joys of a barbecue, you can take the opportunity to teach your kids some valuable lessons about fire safety, food safety, and inspire them to experiment with their eating! With this in mind, here are some ideas for how kids can get involved in the run up to a BBQ and on the day itself:
The minute they hear the word barbecue, they won’t be able to contain their excitement, so whether you’re planning a small BBQ for the family or a larger party, let the kids help beforehand. Keep them occupied by making invitations and menus then deliver them to your guests (even if it’s just Nan!) and get them tidying the garden by digging out those pesky weeds or picking some home-grown herbs to use in your cooking later.
The day before your barbecue you may even want to involve the kids in your shopping trip and use the opportunity to teach them about the importance of separating raw and cooked meats. When you’re home get them to help you prepare some home-made marinades with the herbs that they picked and then show them the best way to marinade meats before the big day.
Set up your barbecue in a safe place as you usually do in the garden, then while still turned off, try to limit the kids intrigue for later by showing them how exactly the BBQ works. You can even let them arrange the wood or briquettes, but just emphasise the dangers of touching a hot barbecue.
With their help, use coloured chalk or football cones to mark a no-go zone six feet around the BBQ. Use this as a game to keep the kids away once it’s been lit and having learnt all about it earlier, they will happily leave your side while the food is cooking!
While you’re preparing some dips and salads before your guests arrive, let the kids keep you company by making some herb basting brushes. Using herbs of your choice like rosemary or sage, turn a wooden spoon upside down and secure a handful of herbs stem down by tightly wrapping around some string. You can use the herb brushes later for basting with marinade or oil whilst barbecuing. Alternatively, you can always get them to whip you up some quick desserts to serve up after!
While the adults are busy supervising the BBQ, why not keep the kids occupied with a treasure hunt? You’ll have to ban all ball games and frisbee’s for the day to avoid accidents and remember to keep them out of the no-go zone!
If you find that your garden or outdoor space is a little too small to keep the kids at the recommended distance from the BBQ, ask another adult to take them out to the park for a while so they burn off some energy and come back with an appetite just in time for perfectly-cooked food!
When serving up, let the kids help by passing around plates, napkins and cutlery to guests, or laying the table outside. Fun, bright plastic or paper plates are always a winner at BBQs due to their low cost, colourful designs and the ease of washing them up or disposing of them afterwards.
All in all we want you to enjoy barbecuing as a family this summer holiday. Think of it as a way to expand your children’s knowledge about food, cooking and safety. By encouraging them to help prepare and taste different food at a BBQ it will instil them with a sense that they can make tasty, healthy food at home and will go a long way for their health. What’s more, their involvement in the event will encourage them to spend more time with the family and they will begin to love helping out in the kitchen and garden, so pledge your support for the Great British BBQ this summer for the chance to win fantastic prizes and get grilling!