Getting your kids in the kitchen can be a delicious learning experience and a great way to spend time with them. Cooking with kids is also a practical way to teach them basic life skills, as well as academic skills involving reading, science and math. When you cook together, kids feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. So here we go… Let your kids crack eggs, pour milk, measure, read and follow directions, make a mess and clean-up afterwards!
Why it’s so important to spend time in the kitchen with your children?
• Kids can explore new and healthy foods.
• They can learn how to clean up the kitchen and organize basic kitchen tools.
• Teaches them about wellness and nutrition.
• They can learn the importance of safe food handling.
• Helps them to develop math and reading skills as they measure and read directions.
• Parents get to spend quality time with their kids.
• Learning to cook is a skill your children can use for the rest of their lives.
• Positive cooking experiences can help build self-confidence.
• Cooking with kids helps them to become more independent.
• Kids can also learn about the origins of food and different cultures.
Make cooking with kids an easy, safe and fun learning experience with these simple tips to get you started:
1. Planning and Choosing the Right Tasks
Invite your child to help to plan a meal or select an appropriate recipe, one that they’ll enjoy and involves plenty of activities that are suitable for their age. Very young children like to explore with their senses of sight, touch, smell, sound and taste. You can start by making a list of ingredients, finding them in your kitchen, washing fruits and vegetables and shopping with them. Touching and tasting will make the experience more enjoyable for them. It’s a good opportunity to teach kids which foods are safe to eat raw and which are not.
Older kids can follow simple steps for recipes and are able to share and take turns. You can get them to read out the recipe and directions and get out what will be needed. Start with things like bread, fun sandwiches, pancakes, muffins, pasta, and smoothies. Pizza-making is also fun where kids can choose their own mini-crusts, sauces, cheeses, and toppings. Many children’s recipes have age guidelines. It is important to look at your own child and recognize what they are capable of doing.
2. Keeping it Clean and Safe
We all know that cooking is a messy business and when cooking with kids there will be an even bigger mess. Enlisting kids in the cleanup will make the experience more pleasant for everyone; at the same time, it will teach them another essential life skill!
Remember that a big part of safe cooking is keeping the chef and the kitchen clean. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before any kind of food preparation. Having an apron is a good idea if you want to keep your clothes from getting dirty. Non-toxic cleaning supplies, a broom, and a mop should always be easily accessible to your kids so that cleaning up becomes an integral part of the cooking and eating process.
Children always need supervision when they are in the kitchen. Before you start, it’s a good idea for them to know a few rules such as what’s OK to touch, which items can hurt them, washing hands and not touching stove knobs or knives etc. Give frequent safety reminders like these, especially if they’re working with blenders, food processors, knives, stove and other appliance.
3. Make It Fun
Meals that are fun, nutritious and quick to make will build confidence in your child and save more time. Encourage kids to explore cookbooks, websites for recipes or even cooking games for kids. If you’re not available, cooking games that can be played online might be an alternative way to teach your kids everything they need to know about the kitchen and the basics of cooking in an entertaining, efficient manner. It may also help your kids develop their creativity and passion for cooking. But too much of anything is also bad. According to various research studies, playing computer and mobile games have negative effects on the physical health of children. Sitting for hours of playing can increase the risk of obesity, sleep disturbances, headaches, dry eyes etc. Parents should keep a close eye on their kids and the time of playing cooking games.
4. Take advantage of seasonal inspiration.
Cut foods like sandwiches and pancakes into shapes, and grate veggies into ribbons. For example, shapes might be hearts, Christmas trees, and Santa for your Christmas recipes. Be willing to try your kids’ suggestions. A willingness to experiment with new foods will be very valuable for your child. Only step in when it’s absolutely necessary, otherwise let them enjoy and create. Cookbooks, nutritional guides, food magazines, and other inspirational materials should be easily available to them.
If you discover that your child is passionate about cooking more in the future, make them feel special by getting them their own set of instruments as a junior chef. Kids of all ages will appreciate a colourful apron or with designs of their favourite superhero, cartoon character etc.
Most of all don’t be afraid to fail a few times. Cooking is an art and it takes time and practice to learn how to do it.
Try these delicious Holiday Recipes for kids that have simple and easy to follow instructions.
1. Healthy Homemade Mango Fruit Roll-Ups
These bright yellow beauties are 100% fruit, which means there’s no added sugar and no ingredients
Ingredients: 4 cups diced ripe mango (from about 3 large mangoes)
2. Christmas cake pops
These cake-on-a-stick treats look and taste so impressive and are perfect for a special occasion dessert. In this video, we give our cake pops a festive.
3. Pancake Christmas Tree
- Mix the pancake batter according to the instructions on the package;
- In descending order make one pancake using a 1/3 cup measure, then one pancake using a 1/4 cup measure; then one using a 1/8 cup measure, ending with one pancake using a tablespoon measure.
- Stack the pancakes and dust with confectioner’s sugar.
- Slice a star fruit and place the star on top. Give children fresh fruit such as raspberries, strawberries, orange slices, or bananas to decorate their pancake tree.
- Drizzle with pancake syrup.
Serve and Enjoy!