INSIDE: Getting your child to help in the kitchen is a great way to spend quality time together. It encourages them to eat their meals better too. But what if they don’t like cooking? Then what? Here are five easy ways to get cooking with kids you can try today!
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As a family, there’s nothing we love more than spending our weekends in the kitchen creating. Total foodies, it’s not uncommon for us to spend the entire day in the kitchen baking, making and creating. Our youngest son, Harrison, especially loves to get involved. He has his own apron and utensils and is totally fascinated by how a dish comes together. He absolutely loves choosing new recipes to try and learning how to make something from scratch – especially if it’s a dessert!
Interested in cooking from an early age, he’s always been keen to help in the kitchen. Not only will he help prep, but he’ll also make and bake and he even loves helping to clear up too. He also loves trying what he’s made – but I guess that goes without saying. Who doesn’t like licking the spoon, scraping the bowl or having first dibs on warm cake straight from the oven, right?!
The benefits of cooking with kids…
Harrison helping in the kitchen is great for four reasons. First, he learns where his food comes from and how all the different ingredients come together to make a meal. Second, it encourages him to eat because he’s keen to try what he’s made. Third, it shows him that there are so many other exciting things he can be doing than just sitting in front of the TV. Finally, it’s a great excuse too for us to bond and spend quality family time together. Some of the best fun we’ve had has been when we’ve been creating in the kitchen!
But what if your child doesn’t enjoy being in the kitchen as much as Harrison? Then what? How do you encourage your child to help in the kitchen when they have absolutely no interest? Well, in this post I’m sharing five simple strategies you can try today that are guaranteed to get your child to love all things cooking. Each one has been tried and tested by Harrison and I and I’m pretty sure they’re what has helped him to develop such a love of cooking from such an early age. So, I know they’re bound to help you on the cooking with kids front too!
Cooking with kids – five ways to encourage your child to help in the kitchen…
#1 | Let them choose what to cook
One of Harrison’s absolute favourite things to do is to go through the cookbooks with me and pick out something new to make. We’ll grab a few post-it notes, mark the pages of all the recipes we want to try and choose one. Then, we’ll write out a list of ingredients, go to the store and buy everything we need. These days he’ll push the trolley round for me, look after the shopping list and hunt out the ingredients himself. When he was younger, he’d sit in the trolley, I’d tell him what we needed and he would shout and point when he saw it.
When cooking with kids, letting them choose what they’re going to cook is a great way to encourage your child to help in the kitchen. Not only does it give them control over what they’re choosing to eat, they’re also more likely to want to try it after because they’ve been involved in making it. It also makes them want to help again another time because they will have enjoyed the whole experience of sitting together looking at recipes and then going to find the ingredients too. It also helps if they’re allowed to choose a snack at the store to have when they get home! And, if your store has a café, a hot chocolate and brownie before or after shopping can be a great incentive too!
#2 | Enjoy making a mess!
Ask your child to help in the kitchen and guaranteed they’ll make a mess! When you’re cooking with kids it’s inevitable. They’ll spill sugar all over the floor, the flour will go everywhere, you’ll both be covered in chocolate and there’ll be more cake mix over the worktop than in the bowl. But that’s OK because they’ll have had a great time!
Kids LOVE to get messy, that’s just how it is. If there’s an opportunity for Harrison to get grubby he’ll be there in a flash. But letting him make a mess in the kitchen wasn’t easy for me. I’m not going to lie, in the early days I hated my kitchen getting in a mess. As someone who likes to keep things tidy, seeing flour, sprinkles and cake batter everywhere was my worst nightmare! But, I soon realised that the nightmare of any mess was outweighed by the fun we – and especially he – would have. No matter how much mess they make, it can always be cleaned up after. When cooking with kids, just embrace the mess!
#3 | Cheat!
Not all recipes are suitable for your child to help make – especially when they’re younger. Some require a lot of peeling and chopping, which they can’t do. Kids have a short attention span too so if a recipe takes too long to prepare, they’ll lose interest and wander off. And so, one of the best ways to encourage your child to help in the kitchen without getting bored is to cheat!
When cooking with kids opt for recipes that have just a few ingredients and ones that are quick and easy to make. Buy ingredients where the majority of the work is done for you too. Packet cake mixes and pre-chopped veggies are great for this. Yes, it’s best to make things from scratch because you know what’s going into your meals. But, when you’re encouraging your child to help in the kitchen, having some of the hard work already done for you is guaranteed to help them not lose interest. Generally, they’re more interested in icing the cake than they are making it. So, if all they need to do is pour the mix into the bowl, add a couple of eggs, stir and bake, they’re much more likely to give it a go.
#4 | Let them pretend
Getting them interested in making and baking from an early age is guaranteed to encourage your child to help in the kitchen when they’re older. A great way to do this is to let them pretend. When Harrison was a toddler, I would sit him on the kitchen floor with an empty bowl, a wooden spoon and a measuring jug and he would literally play for hours.
Letting them pretend whilst you’re cooking gets them used to you needing to be in the kitchen. And if they can be with you pretending to help, they’ll naturally want to get involved when they’re older. Once Harrison was old enough to be able to stand up at the worktop on a stool, I would give him a few ingredients to ‘practice’ with. If I was making a cake, I would put some flour and sugar in a bowl and let him mix. I would also give him his own lump of cookie dough to roll out and play with too. He loved it!
#5 | Allow them to help clean up
When cooking with kids, let them help clean up too. Harrison has helped me wash up since he was little. He’s a real water baby and so any excuse to play with water and he’s there! He’d stand at the sink on a stool and wash all the plastic items for me and would dry them and put them away too. This would work especially well if we’d been baking because most of the items were unlikely to break if dropped! Now he’s older, he still helps dry up but he loves to load and unload the dishwasher too.
Getting them to help clean up after not only shows them how to tidy up once they’ve finished, but it’s a great way to get them to get involved and help with chores too. And, if they need an incentive, reward them with points or stickers for their reward chart or a little pocket money!
Related: How to Improve Your Child’s Behaviour.
Cooking with kids and encouraging your child to help in the kitchen…
No matter how young your child might be, they’re never too little to start learning to enjoy being in the kitchen. Even if it’s just pretending and stirring a spoon around an empty bowl! The earlier you encourage it and make it part of what you do together, the more they’ll grow to love it. The more interested they’ll be in food and trying new things too.
Cooking with kids can be a LOT of fun. If your child is yet to get excited by making and baking, why not give one of these a try and see what happens. You never know, they might enjoy it so much that when they’re older, they want to do all the cooking for you! And wouldn’t that be great?!
That’s it for this post! Does your child like to help in the kitchen? What’s your top tip for cooking with kids? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time…
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