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The carrots have tunnelled their way to the Centre of the Earth. The kids will need to break through the earth’s crust, dig through the steaming hot lava and find the veggies. Your mission is to help the kids find them and eat them to defeat them. Start their journey by saying…

Dig for victory!

Tea-time adventures turn a meal into a game you play together. It’s about finding the fun in the food because that encourages children to eat it. It’s not so much about the recipe which puts the food on the plate (that’s up to you), but the fun which gets the food from the plate into their bellies.

This is a cottage pie. You can make it any way you like, we have suggested a simple recipe below with lentils mixed in to reduce the cost. The important thing is to put a layer of carrots or other vegetables in fairly large chunks on the bottom of the dish so the kids can hunt them down.

To get started, tell your kids that as part of Eat Them to Defeat Them you have a challenge called Dig-Down Pie and ask if they would like to watch the video. Watch the video above together and repeat the rally cry “dig for victory”  with as much enthusiasm as you can muster.  Then ask the children if they want to help Chef Andrew to defeat the veggies.

Before you serve your dig-down pie you might want to watch the video again. As you serve, repeat the rally cry catchphrase: “Let’s dig for victory”! This meal has a wonderful story which you should repeat and act out with the kids. The carrots have buried their way to the centre of the earth. You need to crack through the earth’s surface (the potato crust), dig through the hot lava (the pie filling) and find the carrots hiding at the bottom. Then, you know what to do… “eat them to defeat them”! During the meal, avoid any pressure and keep the mood fun – be the storyteller, the children’s imagination will do the rest.   

Once the meal is over, praise, praise, praise – but don’t mention health. “Well done, we defeated the veggies”. Remember, for veg-resistant children a sniff, a lick or a nibble is good progress – praise it. Then add a sticker to your Eat Them to Defeat Them wall chart, if you don’t have one you can download one here. Ask the kids if they enjoyed the challenge, and would they like to try another. Good luck.

Shepherd’s pie

In season now


Minced meat or veggie alternative

A jar of tomato sauce

Mashed potatoes (fresh, frozen, pre-prepped – whatever works for you)

Optional frozen peas or carrots



  1. preheat your oven to 200C/gas 6.

  2. Cook the mince in a little oil in a frying pan until browned. Stir through the jar of sauce and let it simmer for a few mins to heat through. If using frozen peas or carrots, add them to the sauce and simmer until cooked (the packet will tell you how long this should take).

  3. If making mash, boil peeled and chopped potatoes until soft, then drain and mash with a little salt & pepper and oil, butter or milk if you feel it needs it.

  4. In a casserole dish, pour the meat sauce, then top with the mashed potatoes. Bake in the oven for 20-30 mins, until golden and bubbling

There is no need to go any further with this recipe until you are confident with it and feel up for the next step.

Feeling ready? Let’s see how you can get your next small victory without battles…


Have the kids help you measure and weigh ingredients, mash the potatoes, layering ingredients in the dish and stirring things together (show them how to safely stir over the heat and keep a close eye on them). For more tips on cooking with kids check out Kids in the Kitchen on Simply Veg.