I Can Do It! Natalie’s diary – cooking tips

Who normally cooks on Christmas Day in your house? Here are some top tips for parents so our children and young people can help out with the Christmas Dinner this year! We’d love to see the end result, why not send us a picture?

This week in I Can Do It was our cooking skills week – where we learn skills like chopping and using the oven safely. Here’s some of the tips we learnt below –


  • Introduce chopping skills by practising on items that don’t require a sharp knife, like a banana or a hot dog.
  • You can prevent items like potatoes or tomatoes from moving around by cutting the food item in half and then sitting it on its flat edge.
  • Encourage the use of safe techniques such as ‘the bridge method’ or ‘the claw’ (there are many videos explaining these online).
  • Use coloured chopping boards to increase contrast, for example cut light coloured foods (onions, cheese, mushrooms) on a strongly coloured board (red/green). An adjustable task light with daylight bulb or under-cupboard lighting may also help someone with useful vision.

Using the oven and hob

  • Practice cold runs of using equipment in the kitchen, i.e. locating pans and placing pans on the centre of rings when it’s turned off, do this with both empty and weighted pans by using weights and water as appropriate.
  • Before starting to heat, decide and practice where the pan will be located on the hob, which way the handle faces and where it will be placed when it is removed. A boil alert can be used to attract attention when water is boiling.
  • Practice removing and replacing trays if using the oven whilst wearing oven gloves with dishes that will be used during the session. Do this both empty and full.
  • Oven guards are available to buy on the high street (i.e. Aldi, Lakelands) which slot onto the edge of the rack in the oven, enabling the cook to pull out the rack safely. Remember: the cook needs somewhere nearby to place the tray without walking around the open oven door.
  • Help the cook to focus on all 3 areas of timing, texture and smell when judging whether something is cooked.


It’s almost the end of our I Can Do It course in Tameside, and hopefully there will be some new confident kitchen helpers this Christmas! You can find out more about our upcoming I Can Do It courses on our page here, or by contacting me on 0161 872 1234 or by emailing me at natalie.thompson@henshaws.org.uk.

Read the rest of my diary series here

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