Deciding on what to cook or eat, whether for yourself or someone else, requires making a number of decisions. These include meal occasion, who will be eating, whether the food will be eaten out or at home, dietary needs, religious, cultural or ethical beliefs, the cost and availability of ingredients; current healthy eating advice and/or personal preferences. Marketing, advertising, promotion, role models and social media may also play a role.
Pupils should be able to identify and take into account the factors that affect planning what to cook.
This area covers:
- factors affecting food choice;
- current healthy eating advice;
- dietary needs;
- religious, cultural or ethical beliefs;
- cost and availability of ingredients and money available;
- personal preferences;
- an awareness of purchasing influences, e.g. marketing, advertising, role models and social media.
For further information and activities around how and where food is sold for use and consumption, go to to the Food origins area.
- To introduce the topic of factors affecting food choice, show the Factors affecting food choice presentation and ask the pupils to make notes on the Factors affecting food choice worksheet.
- Task the pupils to investigate the factors affecting food choice and complete the Factors affecting diet, food and drink choice – female or Factors affecting diet, food and drink choice – male worksheet.
- The Factors affecting food choice quiz and Factors affecting food choice Kahoot Q&A can also be used to assess understanding.
For information about current healthy eating advice, go to the Healthy eating area. There is also information about applying healthy eating advice in the Cooking for health area.
- Divide the class into groups and provide each group with a Different life stages card. Ask the pupils to identify three ways nutritional needs may differ at the life stage. Show the Different dietary needs presentation and ask the pupils to correct or add to the information on their cards. Use the completed cards to produce a display.
- Discuss different dietary needs with the class using the Different dietary needs presentation. Task the pupils to complete the Different dietary needs worksheet.
- Dietary needs are varied and often people need to change the foods that they eat, the recipes they make and the cooking methods used to meet their particular needs. Challenge the pupils to work through some of the Dietary needs case studies.
- Print off the Different dietary needs presentation and divide into the different dietary needs. Split the class into groups and give each group the information for one dietary need. Tell the class that they will have a test at the end of the lesson. Give each group a piece of A3 paper and then challenge them to create a poster using only six words and diagrams to illustrate that dietary need in 10 minutes. After ten minutes members of the group can go into the ‘market place’ to gather information on the other dietary needs from the other groups (market stalls). One pupil must remain at their stall to provide information to other pupils. After 20 minutes, tell the pupils to gather their notes together. Conduct a short test to review what they have learnt. Write your own test or use the Dietary needs Kahoot Q&A. Take photographs of the completed A3 sheets and use these for future revision or a display.
- Challenge the pupils to conduct independent research into a particular dietary need that interests them. They should then plan and create a dish, this could be for breakfast or a main meal, to meet that particular need. To consolidate, ask the pupils to carry out a nutritional analysis of their finished dish and evaluate whether it meets the particular need, if appropriate.
For further information about dietary needs, go to the Healthy eating area.
- Food is an important part of religious or cultural observance for many different religions and/or cultures. Use the Religion and food choice presentation to introduce this aspect of food choice. Ask the pupils to complete the Religion and food choice worksheet to check their understanding.
- Task the pupils to research the food choices that some people may make due to their religion. They could use the Religion and food choices fact sheet to record their research. Use the Religion and food choices answer sheet to review their work.
- Check learning by asking the pupils to complete the Religion and food choice quiz with answers Religion and food choice Kahoot Q&A.
- Task the pupils to research one religion and create a menu of three dishes for that religion. They should explain their decisions and then make one of the dishes.
- Religious occasions are celebrated differently across Europe, with different traditional foods. Use the Religion and food traditions around Europe presentation to highlight some of the food and different occasions that are celebrated around Europe.
- Challenge the pupils to choose a country and create a dish suitable for a religious or special occasion. Perhaps set this as a competition and invite parents and carers to enjoy the dishes made.
- Some people choose their foods based on moral or ethical reasons. This includes those that choose not to eat animal products (vegetarians or vegans) or those that like to buy local or seasonal foods or foods that support a high standard of animal welfare. Show the Moral and ethical reasons for food choice presentation to explain this further. Task the pupils to complete the Moral and ethical reasons for food choice worksheet. Alternatively, challenge the pupils to research one aspect of food choice highlighted in the presentation. They should then prepare a piece of information or fact to share with the class next lesson.
For more information about quality assured foods that support high standards of welfare, go to the Where food comes from area.
- Use The Economy of food presentation to highlight the key aspects of cooking on a budget.
- Set the pupils a challenge to make a ‘fake-away’ dish. Use the Gourmet Burger Builder and inspiration resources provided to support this challenge.
- It can be difficult for pupils to predict the cost of some foods. Using the Comparing the cost activity, ask the pupils to rank a variety of products in order of cost and then either visit a supermarket or use an online shopping website to gather the actual costs. Were they right?
- Sometimes, people perceive that cheaper products are lower quality. Conduct a Cost and sensory evaluation activity with the pupils to prove or disprove this perception.
- Using a weekly shopping list, till receipt and the Weekly food shopping investigation, ask the pupils to complete an investigation into the amount of money spent on each of the Eatwell Guide food groups.
- In groups, ask the pupils to create a list of potential strategies to reduce the amount of money spent on food. Some considerations could be: growing your own, using local and seasonal products and food waste. What else could they do?
- Ask the pupils to think about their own household and create a mind map of the social and economic considerations that affect their food choice. How different might this have been for their grandparents at their age?
- Task the pupils to work out the cost of a recipe and make suggestions as to how the cost could be reduced. The Working to a budget worksheet uses a beef mince recipe (this this could be edited to suit a different recipe).
- Excel spreadsheets are an excellent way to easily calculate the cost of recipes by ingredient and portion. There are three editable spreadsheet to help with this: Basic costs with portions, Basic costs and Costing the ingredients.
- Task the pupils to be creative, help prevent food waste and make their own soup! The activity can be completed individually, in pairs or in groups. Follow the instructions on the Super soup activity – teacher instructions sheet to set up the activity for your pupils. There is also a recipe to support the pupils to complete the activity. Why not make Speedy flatbreads, using just three ingredients, to accompany the soup.
For more information about the availability of ingredients, go to the Where food comes from area.
- Not everyone likes the same food. The taste, odour, appearance, shape and colour of food can affect people in different ways. Give each pupil an image of an ingredient or food and ask them if they like or dislike the ingredient or food. Ask them to explain what it is that they particularly like or dislike about it.
- Lifestyle and eating habits often determine when we eat and at what time. Work in groups to identify different eating habits and how different lifestyles affect them.
- Challenge pupils to list five food items/dishes they like and five they dislike. Next, ask them to justify their reasons. Invite 2-3 pupils to the front of the class to read out their lists. Is there any food that re-occurs?
For help and support with sensory evaluation tests to determine preferences go to the Ingredients area
- Marketing, advertising, role models and social media can all influence food choice. Ask the pupils to think about a food advertisement they have recently seen. Would the advert encourage them to buy the product? Ask them to explain their answer.
- Ask the pupils what different forms of marketing and advertising they are aware of e.g. magazines, promotional leaflets etc. Discuss how these might influence the purchases they make, would this differ with a different target audience?
- Cut out adverts from a range of magazines and create a display. Challenge the pupils to describe the adverts. Would they influence them to buy the food or make the recipe? Ask them to justify their answers.
- Give the pupils examples of different types of packaging that promote ethical marketing. Discuss how and why this is used. For example organically grown, Fairtrade.
- Healthy eating is popular in advertising and marketing. Challenge the pupils to identify different ways in which healthy eating is promoted. Investigate how manufacturers and others have to comply with laws when making claims about their food or drink products.
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