Starting to get children involved in the kitchen from an early age has a wealth of benefits. Not only does it teach them a vital life skill and encourages independence and creativity, but it can also promote healthy eating by introducing them to new foods. So, you’ve got your kid…but where to start?
Sure, life is busy enough, without finding time to create the next Delia Smith – and trust me, no-one is expecting you to stall weeknight dinner plans over it. But weekends and school holidays can be the perfect time to get the children into the kitchen and get them cooking.
Make them boss
Children love nothing better than being in control (when they can, that is!) – and the opportunity to choose a recipe (albeit from a choice of kid-friendly options) will get them really excited and raring to go. Any parent or childminder will also testify that a child is more likely to eat something they’ve had a personal say about.
Cooking starts with good hygiene and kitchen safety, so making sure your budding chefs are aware of the importance of washing hands properly and staying clear of sharp knives etc is really important and lays a good foundation.
Making sure you give your child tasks they can handle at their age and ability will avoid any frustrations, and make the experience enjoyable. This develops with maturity, so the older they get, the more they can take on and the more complex their recipes can become.
Keep your cool
If you accept that involving young kids in the cooking process will take more time and result in a messy kitchen, then you will avoid stress and be able to just relax and enjoy. Breathe, just breathe!
End with a smile
Getting the children involved in a basic clean up afterwards is part of the process (as well as licking the bowl of course!). And that just leaves more time for you and your new young chef to feast on your culinary creation – just don’t forget the all-important “MMM, YUMMY!”, even if the edges are a bit burnt!! They’re learning, remember that!
Happy cooking and bon appetit!