Encouraging your kids to cook can be rewarding. Initially you may need to work alongside them giving little demonstrations of cutting techniques and measuring. However, allow them to enjoy working with food and eventually you could have your own personal chef on call — well, at least for a couple of meals a week.

At breakfast encourage the children to cook an egg in the microwave. Lightly grease a small dessert bowl suitable for the microwave and break in an egg. Pierce the top with a toothpick, cover the bowl with a paper towel and cook on medium (50%) power for about 1 minute. Look at the egg — if it needs more cooking, give it another 10 seconds or so. When cooked, the egg slides out easily onto toast or a muffin. 

At lunch, encourage the kids to build their own salads in preserving jars. Or allow them to set up a 'sandwich bar' and take orders from the family.

At dinner they can dice vegetables for a salad or stir-fry. Show them how to add the chunky veggies to the wok first followed by those that cook more quickly. In no time they will be junior Masterchefs.


Build your own salad in a jar. Choose a selection of prepared vegetables, pasta, rice or fruit that you enjoy. The diced chicken could be replaced with cheese.

3/4 cup small pasta shells or similar
1 tablespoon olive or sunflower oil
4 tablespoons each: mayonnaise, plain yoghurt
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup each: peas, diced cooked chicken,
2 feijoas, peeled and diced, optional
1 red capsicum, halved, seeded and diced

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pasta, stir then boil for about 12 minutes or until the pasta is just tender. Drain in a sieve, return to the saucepan and combine with the oil. Cool.

Combine the mayo and yoghurt well in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Microwave the peas until hot. Cool.

To assemble, place the pasta in the base of two jars. Top with the mayo mixture. Then layer the other ingredients in the order that you wish. Screw the top on and keep cool. Serves 2.


Omit the chilli, if preferred.

1 cup light sour cream
3 spring onions, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon each: chilli flakes, ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 small flour tortillas
400g skinned and boned cooked or smoked chicken, cut into thin strips
Topping:1 cup Mexican-style salsa
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
chopped fresh herbs eg parsley, coriander

Combine the sour cream, spring onions, chilli flaked (if using), cumin and garlic.

Warm the tortillas for 30 seconds in the microwave. Place the chicken down the centre of each tortilla. Top with the sour cream mixture then roll up and place seam-side down in a lightly greased 28cm x 21cm baking dish.

Spread with the salsa and sprinkle with the cheese. Cover and microwave for 4-5 minutes, until bubbling. Garnish with the chopped herbs. Serves 4-6.


Slice the carrot lengthwise into ribbons using a potato peeler. Top with halved hard-boiled eggs, if preferred.

Peanut Sauce:1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, diced
1/8 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup water
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salad: 3 medium potatoes
1 cup sliced frozen beans
1 large carrot, sliced into ribbons
1 cup sliced cucumber

Place the oil and onion in a microwave bowl and cook on high (100%) power for 2 minutes. Add all the other ingredients for the sauce. Stir well and microwave for 2 minutes.

Peel the potatoes and thickly slice. Place on a microwave plate or dish. Sprinkle with a little water. Cover and microwave for about 5 minutes, until cooked.

Place the beans and carrot in a large microwave casserole. Cover and microwave for about 6 minutes, until hot and just cooked. Layer the potatoes onto a serving plate. Top neatly with the cucumber, beans and carrot. Pour the hot peanut sauce over just before serving. Serves 4.


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