Cooking with Kids
The Do’s and Don’ts and an easy recipe to try for (true) first-timers
By: Sarah Whitehead
The kitchen is a great place to spend quality time with the little ones. Not only does it help boost their self-confidence, it also helps them develop their palates and learn about nutrition. If you have picky eaters, getting them involved in meal preparation is one of the most effective ways to encourage them to try new food, as kids are more likely to eat food they have helped prepare.
Many parents wonder at what age children should start getting involved in the kitchen, but truth is they are never too young. Even an 18-month-old would have the necessary motor skills to help out. You can engage them with simple tasks such as washing vegetables and weighing ingredients. Once they are old enough to follow instructions, you can give them more complex tasks.
Before you get started, there are a few things you may want to consider. Markette’s Chef Aldo Volpi says: “While cooking with kids, it’s essential to have the process planned in advance.” This could include the type of dishes they like, utensils to be used and, most importantly, allowing ample time. You should use plastic or wooden utensils for safety and make sure long hair is tied back.
Social House’s Head Chef, Bijaw Deoli, advises parents to educate their kids on cleanliness. He says: “Teach the little ones about washing their hands and utensils before using them as they may contain germs.” You should also remind children to keep their fingers out of blenders and beaters, explaining the dangers in advance. While it is fine for children to use beaters, Deoli recommends keeping them on slow speeds. Patience is key.
While safety is paramount, it is important to have some fun. Simple yet visually appealing recipes ensure that children are not discouraged from the start. Chef Volpi recommends a traditional mac and cheese:
“Get the little ones to measure 16 cups of water. Add the water in a large pot over high heat until boiling. Add four cups of short pasta and a tablespoon of salt. Stir to ensure the pasta does not stick. After eight minutes, drain the pasta and set it aside.
Warm one cup of milk in a saucepan on a gentle heat. In the meantime, get your kids to whisk together half a cup of milk and two tablespoon of all-purpose flour until there are no lumps remaining. Now, to make that delicious cheese sauce, add in a handful of grated cheddar cheese, half a teaspoon of salt and quarter of a spoon of powdered mustard to the warming milk. Let your kids stir the sauce on low heat until it thickens. The delicious creamy sauce is now ready to be mixed with your boiled pasta. Let your kids combine the pasta and half of cheese sauce in a large serving bowl, stir to coat the pasta evenly and add in the other half of the sauce on the top.
Not only is this a special treat for kids, it is easy to make and is perfect for a family of four-six. Dinner sorted!”