Planning to cook (5-7 Years)

When planning to cook, the time of day, person and occasion need to be considered.

Planning to cook

Activity 1- People eat different food and meals according to the time of day, who they are and the occasion.

Draw four columns on the board headed: Breakfast, Lunch, Evening meal and Snacks.

Show the children each of the Mealtime cards in turn and ask them to name the food or meal and say which heading they think the card should be placed under. 

Ask the children to explain their reasons for putting the food and meal images under particular headings.

Question the children:

  • What do you eat at these different meal times?
  • What do other people you know eat at these times e.g. baby brother or sister, grandparent?
  • Does what we eat change if it is the weekend, holiday or special occasion, e.g. a birthday party, Passover, Eid, Pancake day?
  • Why do these events change what we eat? (More time to prepare and eat meals, it’s a celebration, once a year occasion.)

Establish that what people eat depends on the time of day, who they are and the occasion.
Help children understand that some foods are traditionally eaten at certain times of day.  Ask the following questions to elicit this:

  • Would you eat spaghetti bolognaise for breakfast? Why not?

Too much first thing, too long to make in the morning.

  • Would you just eat an apple for your lunch? Why not?

Not enough to keep your body working properly. During the day you need food so you can learn and be active.

  • Would you have toast for your evening meal?

You might do if you have had larger meal at lunch time.

  • Would you eat a vegetable curry and rice for a snack?

No, this is too large for a snack.

Question the children about how the food and meals shown could be made healthier:

  • Do they all include a drink?
  • Do they all include fruit or vegetables to help towards 5 A DAY?

You could use the Mealtime presentation instead of the cards if you wish.

If you have taught pupils about The Eatwell Guide previously, display The Eatwell Guide poster (basic) and ask the children to say where the different ingredients seen in the food on each image belong on the Eatwell Guide.

Each group can work alone or in pairs to design a meal or snack appropriate for the time of day they have been allocated. They must also decide who this will be for and the occasion before they begin.  The meal could be for themselves, a baby brother or sister, a parent or grandparent. The occasion could be a weekday, weekend, special event, religious festival. Remind the children that each meal or snack should include a drink and fruit or vegetables to help towards 5 A DAY.Split the class into four groups. Allocate one of the three meal occasions or the snack to each group.

The children could use art materials or a computer programme to present their ideas.

When they have finished the task, ask the children to present their work and explain their reasons for designing what they have.

Display the work with captions from the children explain who the meal is for, when it is to be eaten and why, e.g. I eat this for my breakfast so I can learn and be active, I eat this bigger lunch when I am on holiday because I have more time to enjoy it, my baby sister eats this for a snack because it is just the right amount to stop her being hungry until she has her evening meal.


Activity 2 - Recipes can be modified to suit the time of day, person and occasion.

This is a practical activity so you may wish to return to this when the pupils have completed more of the activities in the Cooking area, e.g. the hygiene and safety activities.

The purpose of this activity is to help children consider how the time of day, person and occasion determines the food or meal that is made and eaten.

Set the situation for the children. 

  • We will work in small groups to plan and make an after school snack for a class in the school.

Talk to the children about what needs to be considered.

  • What sort of food would be appropriate for this time of day and why? (Will a lot of food or a smaller amount be needed at this time of day?)
  • What food would be appropriate for the people in this class? (How old are they? Are there any special dietary needs/allergies?)
  • What would be appropriate for this occasion? (Is this a casual or formal occasion? Will cutlery be used or is it a finger food occasion?)

Ask the children to suggest ideas for what could be made to suit this time of day, the people and occasion.

Introduce the following dishes as possibilities and note them on the board.

  • Sandwiches;
  • Dip and dippers;
  • Yogurt and fruit dish;
  • Fruit kebabs.

These dishes provide plenty of opportunity for adaptations so the children can tailor them to the requirements.

Show the children recipes for these dishes (available in the Recipe area) and then hold a class vote to decide which of the four dishes will be made.

Organise the children into small groups and ask them to plan any changes they will make to the recipe to make it suitable, e.g. changes to ingredients, portion size. Provide the children with copies of the Recipe planning sheet to write or illustrate their adapted recipe.

Close the session by asking the groups to talk through the changes they have made to the original recipe and the reasons for the changes. Revisit the time, people and occasion for which this dish will be made and check the recipes are suitable.

The children will need to make their dishes on another occasion to allow you to organise the ingredient and equipment. Here is a list of resources to help you organise the practical activity:

  • Setting up a cooking session guide
  • Get ready to cook cards
  • Food skills guide – to show how to teach safe food preparation skills.

Activity 3 - A tasting session can be used to inform recipe planning.

This will be a tasting session based on the dish the children planned in Activity 2. Ensure you have checked for any sensitivities to ingredients. You could send home the Ingredient check letter if you don’t already have this information from parents/carers.

Before this session, review the children’s recipes to help organise the food that will be needed.

You may like to include some of the ingredients the children have planned to use alongside alternatives they might like to consider. For example, if the class voted to make sandwiches in Activity 2, you could plan to taste different breads. If the class voted to make a dip and dippers, you could taste a selection of different vegetables for the dippers.

Look at the Tasting guide to help plan your session.

Start your session by explaining to the children that they will be a tasting ingredients that could possibly be used in their recipes.  Explain that this is to help them decide if they are happy with the ingredients they planned to use or if they wish to make changes.

Run the tasting session. Show the Tasting presentation to help talk the children through how to taste the food. This also includes a useful word bank of sensory vocabulary. 

Children can record their thoughts on the Tasting ingredients worksheet.

At the end of the tasting session, question the children about the samples they have tasted and discuss if they will make any changes to their recipe based on this. 

Question the children to check they have thought about the time of day, person and occasion when making their choices.

Allow the children to update their recipes.


Activity 4 - Preparing a recipe should consider the time of day, person and occasion for which it is needed.

Set up a cooking session for children to make their dish. 

Before food work begins, cover the following information with the children.

  • Explain the getting ready to cook steps and display the Get ready to cook cards as a reminder.
  • Cover any classroom safety rules which must be followed, e.g. not walking around with cooking equipment.
  • Safety demonstrate the cooking skills be used, e.g. bridge hold, claw grip, fork secure. The skills are explained in the Food skills guide.
  • Recap the audience and occasion for which the dish is being made and how this has influenced the recipe.
  • Talk to the children about the presentation of their dish. The final dish should be well presented and look appetising.

Ensure the children are clear about what they are doing and have copies of their recipes nearby. Allow the children to make their dish.

When the dishes are ready, the children could either serve these to the intended audience or alternatively taste the dishes and evaluate them with a view to recreating an improved version to serve to the audience another time.

If the children are tasting their dishes, remember to instruct them on how to do this hygienically, see the Tasting guide for more information.

Question the children about their dish:

  • Was this right for the time of day, person and occasion?
  • Do you think you need to make any change to the recipe to make the dish more suitable?


Further activities

  • Plan to invite the audience for which the children have created their dish to come and enjoy this. You could decorate your classroom in the style of a restaurant or café for the occasion.
  • Use the planning and making activity to support a larger piece of cross curriculum work with children writing recipes and invitations (literacy), calculating ingredient costs (numeracy) as well as preparing the dish for the event.

  • Children could carry out research on pupils and staff in school to answer questions such as:
  • What is the most popular breakfast?
  • What do people like to eat as a snack?
  • What do people eat for lunch at the weekend?

  • Children could research what people in other countries eat at different times of the day and why.

You can find further lesson ideas relating to why people choose different types of foods in the Healthy eating area.


5 - 7 YR
Mealtime cards

A set of cards showing different mealtimes.

5 - 7 YR
Mealtime presentation

A presentation exploring different mealtimes in a day.

The Eatwell Guide

A poster of The Eatwell Guide.

5 - 7 YR
Recipe planning

A worksheet to help plan writing a recipe.

The Eatwell Guide (basic)

A basic poster of The Eatwell Guide.

Ingredient check letter

A template letter to send home about pupils handling and/or eating different ingredients.

Tasting guide

A guide to support running a food tasting session.

5 - 7 YR
Tasting presentation

A presentation introducing food tasting.

5 - 7 YR
Tasting ingredients

A worksheet to record tasting different ingredients.

3 - 5 YR
Get ready to cook cards

A set of cards about getting ready to cook.

Food skills guide

A guide highlighting key food skills that can be taught.

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