It can be MESSY! It can be CRAZY! But it can also be FUN and CREATIVE! Let’s face it, for many parents just whipping up a home-cooked meal can feel overwhelming enough without letting kids into the kitchen. But you’ll be surprised what small hands can do in the kitchen and most importantly cooking with kids will give them a sense of accomplishment at the end. So, get those sleeves rolled up and put on an apron for some good cooking fun with your kids.
Why Cook With Kids?
Cooking provides the youngsters a way to learn valuable life skills (such as sanitation, safe food handling, and basic food preparation skills), good nutrition. It also develops math and reading skills as they measure and read directions. And it’s the perfect opportunity to give your kids a boost in confidence, exposure to new and healthy foods, as well as promote the curiosity and motivation needed to continue cooking at home. Mini chefs are more likely to eat what they make and become more adventurous about trying new foods. By the age of 8, they can make simple snacks such as scrambled eggs. By 10 years old, they can help prepare dinner before you get home from work. Now, doesn’t that sound appealing?
And if your kids are vegie haters, we’ve also mentioned in our Fields’ Top Tips To Get Kids Eating Vegetables article, that one of the best ways to get kids on friendlier terms with veg is to involve them in the whole preparation and cooking process. Fields’ Marketing Manager, French Expat and mother of two, Laure Perriot is an advocate; she tries to cook with her kids as often as she can.
The Fields’ Team has racked its brains and put together some useful tips, an age appropriate skill level guide and creative recipes to help you and your kids have a fun and fabulous cooking time together!
Top Tips for a Fuss Free Cooking Experience with Kids
1/ Double the fun with planning - Let your child to take part in planning a meal or picking a recipe (age appropriate), making a list of ingredients, and grocery shopping. This will give your kids a sense of control and accomplishments by allowing them make choices whenever possible.
2/ Expect a lot of mess - Cooking is a messy business even with adults, and when kids are involved there'll be even more. We suggest you just relax a little - you'll all have more fun if you just let the mess happen and then clean up together at the end.
3/ Get them ready - Put them in clothes you don't mind getting dirty! Roll up long sleeves, put an apron on and tie back long hair.
4/ Stress about safety and food hygiene – Make sure they wash their hands before cooking and in between touching raw and cooked or ready-to-eat foods. Set up a work area at a lower height to make it easier for preschoolers to reach things. Remove any sharp objects from their reach.
5/ Learning opportunities - While you're cooking, if they’re old enough, get them to read the cooking instructions, and talk to them about ingredients and their origins, cooking processes and techniques. Cooking can be a fantastic way to learn about science, geography and math (through weighing) in a hands-on approach. It also helps to develop their fine motor skills and coordination.
6/ Touching and tasting - This will make the experience more enjoyable for them, encourage more adventurous eating plus it's a good opportunity to teach children which foods are safe to eat raw. Ask them to use a clean spoon to taste, not fingers!
7/ Make it fun! Children will fall in love with cooking if you relax and have fun with them in the kitchen. Encourage them to be creative with the ingredients on hand.