9 easy ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen
By Private Chef Vanessa Bayma & Founder of CBC consultancy and events
Kids love getting involved in the kitchen. From tiny tots to teens, there is so much to enjoy when it comes to cooking: textures, quality time together and of course tucking into a delicious meal or snack afterwards.
While it might be all about fun for them, cooking is also an important and practical life skill that teaches kids to be independent and capable.
Here are 9 easy ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen:
Start growing your own food
Kids love watching things grow and change. Starting with a pack of seeds, entrusting them with daily watering and checking on their plant is a great way to build responsibility. Even if it’s just herbs on the windowsill, you can talk about your plans for the plant and get them involved in cooking it up later on.
Invite them into the kitchen from an early age
From a young age, the only thing kids want to do is copy their parents. Having your little one’s highchair in the kitchen as you prepare a meal is a great way to get them acquainted with cooking. You can even talk your little one through what you’re doing, noticing colours and shapes of different ingredients.
Get yourself a kids’ cookbook
There are so many options out there, from Disney Princess and Harry Potter themed cookbooks to healthy options and Master Chef Junior. This allows you to pick a book based on your child’s age and interest to keep them engaged in the kitchen. It also means the recipes will be designed with kids in mind.
Choose a recipe together
If your kids don’t like broccoli, chances are they won’t be very interested in a super green stir-fry or broccoli soup. Anything with chocolate on the other hand is sure to be a winner.
Together, sit down, flick through a recipe book and choose something to make. For kids learning how to read, this is a great way to get them sounding out words, building vocabulary and squeezing in some extra reading practice.
Break down the steps into age-appropriate tasks
For toddlers, it can be daunting having them near the stand mixer, hot oven or sharp knives. When you’re looking at the recipe in non-kids cookbook, break the steps down further into what’s manageable for your little ones.
For example, though they can’t put the dish in the oven, they can turn the dial to the right temperature for the oven and help put the oven mitts on. You can also ask them to rinse vegetables, pick off leaves of a mint or coriander bunch, or have them combine all the dry ingredients from plastic containers.
For older children, you can purchase knives specially designed for kids – sufficient to chop vegetables but not fingers.
Make the kitchen kid-friendly
Little kids won’t be able to reach the kitchen bench so think about a way of making it more accessible. You may already have a learning tower you can use or you might be able to move your children’s small chairs and table to the kitchen. Just level the playing field so kids still feel close to the action.
Taste test along the way
As you introduce new ingredients and assemble your dish, give your child a taste. Talk about the textures, flavours and colours, both before and after cooking. With cookies for example, they can lick the spoon – a task adults still enjoy – and describe the wet and sticky dough. Then once baked, together you can explore how it’s turned into a hard crunchy texture. This can be a great activity for picky eaters, as they can discover ingredients and understand what goes into the final product.
Teach one skill at a time
Read out the recipe aloud, together, but don’t overwhelm your children with tasks. For kids who are new to cooking, you might only want to introduce one or two new skills each time you cook together. With smaller children, you can start with mixing for example and for older kids you can task them with measuring, chopping and the like. Slowly, you can build up your child’s confidence in the kitchen and introduce new tasks every time you cook together.
Don’t forget to include them in tidying up! It’s an important skill to learn when cooking and it’ll make the clean up much easier for you.
Learn together in a workshop
Chefs and catering companies can hold an intimate cooking class in your own home and introduce your family to a new recipe. This is better suited to older children and if you’re not so confident in the kitchen, it’s a great way to ease into cooking. You can choose the dish you’d like to prepare as a family.
Sign up for a one-on-one class or a group workshop with Private Chef Vanessa Bayma and her incredible CBC Consultancy and Events team, for a unique experience with your child. From learning about ingredients to enhancing their cooking skills under the guidance of a professional team, develop the culinary enthusiast in them while having a great time in a safe and warm environment.
This is where young foodies are discovered!