Introducing your kids to cooking
There are three things young kids love doing more than anything else. They love creating things, they love doing things with their parents, and they love making a mess. Cooking is a perfect storm of all these three things. It does more than teach your kids a skill they’re going to be using for the rest of their lives- it’s also a great way to get them to eat healthy right now. Your child might be suspicious of fruit and vegetables, but you’ll be amazed how willing they are to eat anything that they had a hand in creating.
Getting kids into cooking in the first place isn’t hard. The trick is to do it in a way that will keep that interest alive as they get older.
Getting started
While the combination of food and mess are a child’s dream come true, you might feel differently, so it’s a good idea to prepare thoroughly so that the experience is as fun as possible for everyone involved. Make sure that you have all the ingredients you’re going to need laid out in advance. Choose your recipe carefully; when cooking with very young children it’s best to make simple dishes such as fresh fruit salads or biscuits. Ideal recipes for young kids are things that are easy to make within their attention span, so that they see the results of their efforts quickly.

That said, you should allow plenty of time for any cooking with children. Remember, they’re learning things for the first time, which means things will likely go more slowly than you’re expecting as your kids learn by asking questions and even making mistakes at every stage of the recipe. This is how learning happens.

As well as allowing plenty of time for the cooking, be prepared to clean up a tonne of mess afterwards. Cooking with kids is a messy activity and you’re just going to have to live with that. There’s no harm in trying to teach the joys of clearing up as you go along, but don’t be surprised if this is a limited success the first time around. For the same reason, make sure everyone has either an apron or a full change of clothes handy!

It can be fun to get the kids involved in the planning stages of the cooking as well. Go through recipe books with them, asking them to suggest things to cook, then take them on a trip to buy all the ingredients.
Beginner’s activities
The trick to making cooking a really great experience for your kids is to find the right balance between cooking something nice and making sure your kid has plenty to do. You kid won’t want to just sit in the kitchen watching you have all the fun! There are plenty of things that children can do for themselves so long as they have adult supervision. Get them buttering bread, or cracking eggs into a bowl for you. Dough is perfect for this, whether you want it kneading, rolling out with a rolling pin or cut into shapes with cookie cutters, your kids will love to have a go.

For savoury dishes, get them grating cheese, crushing garlic, mashing potato or even cutting soft vegetables, providing the knife isn’t so sharp they could cut themselves.

Be ready for questions
As well as teaching them the practical aspects of preparing food, cooking with your kids is a great time to teach them more about where their food comes from as well. You might not be that impressed to know that eggs come out of chickens, but a young child can be awestruck by this new fact.

Likewise, as you’re preparing vegetables you can talk to them about the ways food grows in the ground and on trees, and how it’s delivered to the shops and your kitchen.

As your kids get older they can build on these early experiences, learning how to hold a knife properly, how to clear up after themselves and how to select ingredients and try different recipes. Even at the age of five you can give a child some sliced bread, a butter knife and some fillings and spreads and trust them to make a sandwich.

From there, you can give them an active role in preparing their own packed lunches, getting them to eat more fruit and vegetables by letting them choose which ones to take to school every day. For dinner you can take a plain pizza base, some tomato purée, cheese and toppings and let them put their own pizza together before putting it into the oven for them.

If you get them enthused about cooking now, it will stick with them for life. So when they finally go off on their own you can be sure they’re eating well and not just living out of the local take away!


Welcome to

Introducing your kids to cooking