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Next Steps Stew

Claire Wright

In season now


Meat/veggie alternative (cheap cuts such as stewing beef/shin, skinless chicken thighs on the bone, or diced pork work well here as they do well with being cooked low and slow) - try to use less and add some pulses (see below)

1-2 tbsp flour (optional)

A bag of frozen or fresh mixed casserole veg, and/or a handful per person of 1-2 veg (see suggestions in recipe)

Stock (low sodium) (and a tin of chopped tomatoes if you like)

Dried mixed herbs, for added flavour (optional)

1 tin of beans, chickpeas or lentils, drained


We suggest you do this in stages, slowly, and go as far as works for your family, here’s how your final recipe might come together…


  1. Brown the meat/veggie alternative (try using less and adding in some extra protein from pulses like beans or lentils) – fry in a little oil until lightly browned all over. Add the veg, if using, and cook a few more mins until softening, stirring through a tablespoon or two of flour if you like to help the stew thicken nicely. Pour over enough stock or sauce to cover (and herbs, if using). Turn the heat up until your stew is bubbling. (A bag of casserole veg – fresh or frozen) will do just fine here, but if you want to choose your own, great choices include: fresh or frozen diced root veggies, fresh or frozen diced butternut squash, chopped or sliced courgette or aubergine (or frozen Mediterranean veg), diced peppers, diced onions, sliced mushrooms, tinned or frozen sweetcorn, frozen peas, leafy greens like spinach or kale… Add frozen veg or leafy greens for the last bit of cooking – check packages for cooking times.)

  2. Turn the heat back down to simmer the stew, covered with a lid, for 30 mins-3 hours (check cooking instructions for your choice of meat – diced meat will usually take closer to 30 mins, but bigger pieces of meat or ones that do best being cooked low and slow can take several hours), until everything is cooked through and soft (slow-cooked meats will pull apart when you check them), checking occasionally and stirring, even adding extra stock or sauce if needed to stop it sticking.

  3. For a casserole, instead of simmering on the stove, preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 while you are bringing the stew to the boil, then cover the (ovenproof) pan with a lid and pop in the oven for 1-3 hours or until ready.

  4. If your stew/casserole looks too dry when you check on it, add more stock and/or sauce. If it looks too thin at the end, then mix 1 tbsp cornflour with 1 tbsp water in a bowl and stir in a few spoonfuls of the stew, then add it into the pan and cook for another 5-10 mins uncovered, stirring regularly, until thickened. A few mins before serving, add any frozen veg or leafy greens and a tin of beans, chickpeas or lentils (any work in a stew). Heat through and serve.

Engaging Kids

Engaging Kids

Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating. Find out more here.

Kids in the kitchen

Kids in the kitchen

Get younger kids washing and tearing leafy greens, pouring stock and/or tomatoes into the pan with your help, and chucking a couple of handfuls of your chosen veg in.

Older kids might be ready to learn how to chop some fresh veg to add at the start of the meal, stir everything together in the pan, or help you make a quick stock or sauce to add in!

Master these skills:

Cleaning vegetables,  Tasting,  Bridge chopping,  Claw chopping


Use arts & crafts as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. While you make your spag bol sauce, why not set a child up with:

Carrot Face Mask

Carrot Veg Crown

Cut Out ‘n’ Colour Carrot

Carrot Launcher game

Get Over It puzzle

Find more arts & crafts and puzzles & games on our website.



Why not start with a couple of cubes of cooked squash or root veg like sweet potato and get them to describe what they taste – does it remind them of anything? Maybe it tastes like autumn or Christmas. If they aren’t feeling up to tasting it, suggest sniffing or licking to see if that gives them a sense of the taste that they can describe. Make sure you join in and describe it yourself. See if they want to chuck some into the stew after having engaged with them.

Head to our Sensory page for more games, videos, tips and ideas.



Why not let your child come up with a fun name and story for your stew? Perhaps different veg and elements in the stew are having a battle, or joining forces against the mash! Let them use their imaginations and enjoy the process. Make sure to praise them for their help and to use the name and story chosen when serving, it may encourage them to try some!

Get more ideas over on our Roles for Kids page.

Claire Wright

Editor: After leaving Exeter University with a degree in English Literature, Claire worked in various fields ranging from youth work and charities to publishing, before starting up a food-focused website when her first child was born. After being asked to project manage the publication of Veg Power's Crowdfunder book, Claire came on board as a fully-fledged team member in 2018 to take on the role of Communications Manager, then Editor, looking after Veg Power's website, content, recipes and social media platforms.

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