Cooking Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated!
Parenting

Cooking Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated!

What do you imagine when you think about cooking or baking with your children? 

Mess? Arguments? Chaos? Or perhaps you think of how wonderful it will be to get them off their screens and to have some bonding time together? Maybe you feel they are too young and not sure when to start introducing baking and cooking with your child?

Even if you are not great in the kitchen, here are some easy ways you can get the kids involved and have some fun.  It doesn’t have to be complicated!  You don’t have to do a full on showstopper with them…unless you want to of course!

Make lunch together

Younger Children: As soon as they can start to hold a spoon, you can start showing them how to spread butter on some bread, pick their chosen sandwich fillings and place them on top.  Let them play and explore the different textures.

Older Children: Show them how to carefully use a knife to chop up their fillings (such as cucumber etc) and perhaps they could even make yours too!

Fruit Kebabs

This is such a fun way to encourage children to eat fruit; get them to help you wash the fruit, they can also help you slice it and you could even stamp out some fun shapes. This is great for younger children’s hand eye co-ordination.  Ask them to carefully arrange them on the kebab sticks.  

Younger Children: Practice their counting by asking them to count how many pieces of fruit are on each stick. Can they arrange them in a pattern?  What colours do they see?  

For a bit of a treat, melt a little chocolate and you have the perfect snack, plus they will eat the fruit without even realising when they are dipping it in the chocolate!

Teatime

Do you have a fussy eater?  Encouraging your child to be involved at teatime is a great way to help, as it will help them try new foods when they have made it themselves. Here are a few ways you can get them involved:

Get them involved in the planning: Ask one or two suggestions of a meal they would like to have for tea that week.

Make the mealtime list accessible: This will ensure they know what to expect for tea each night so there are no surprises! Or you can get them choose from the list.

When it’s time to start prepping for tea: Call them in to the kitchen and give them jobs to do so they are involved, here are some examples:

  • Unload the dishwasher from lunch or clear any dishes on the side
  • Set the table 
  • Ask them to clear away any toys
  • Meal prep:
    • Young Children (under 8) – get them to help you with the veg prep or pasta by putting it in the saucepan.
    • Older Children – ask them to do the veg prep – if they are unsure, help them by showing them what to do.
  • Cooking the meal: 
    • Under 8 – they can’t be left with a hot pan but they can still help you – whether it’s by making the cheese sauce/gravy or just helping you get the herbs and spices out the cupboard.
    • Older Children – depending on their confidence in the kitchen let them do more, so ask them to keep an eye on the pan so it doesn’t boil over. You can also let them make the sauce by adding in the herbs and other ingredients. Once they become more confident, they could make it themselves or make a pudding for you to have afterwards.
  • Clearing away: Give out jobs to help clear away for example:
    • Get them to help you clear the table
    • Clean the table and sweep the floor
    • Load the dishwasher
    • Wash & dry the dishes

Cooking with your child will be messier than if you do it yourself, and it will take longer, but getting them involved not only helps with their math & literacy skills, but it is a chance for you to have that time to bond with one another, away from screens (unless you are following a recipe). It can harness their creativity and imagination and increase their self confidence too by exploring new tastes & textures.

Why not try this fun recipe?

Not only is it easy to follow with younger kids, older children could even follow it themselves.  If you are baking with toddlers check out our top tips for a stress free bake:

  • Get all the ingredients, utensils, baking trays and other equipment out before you start, so you are not routing around the cupboards looking for items causing your child to get bored! Ask them to help set all the ingredients and play a little game as to what they think you might need.
  • Set them up at a suitable table so they can reach and sit down with them to do it. Get them excited about what you are going to make and ask them to think what it will taste like when it is ready!
  • Breaking the recipe down into simple steps helps too, so make sure it is something simple or a recipe that you are familiar with making.
  • For each step tell them how much you need and get them to help you weigh the ingredients out. Tasks such as letting them spoon the flour onto the scales gives them a feeling of independence
  • Ask them about the ingredients, for example, if they know what it is and where they think it comes from as well as what they think they need to put in next.
  • Most toddlers love getting their hands messy so instead of a spoon, let them get stuck in rubbing the butter and flour together!
  • Finally, there will be mess and it will take longer than if you were to do it yourself, but the mess can be cleaned up afterwards. You could even encourage your little one to help with the tidying up while you are waiting for it to bake! 
  • Most importantly enjoy the time with your little one and how proud they are going to be when their masterpiece is finished.

Be sure to give us a shout out on our Facebook and Instagram about how you got on with the bake and if you have any questions about baking with your child then please get in touch.  You can also check out our other blog posts which have some fun recipes for you to try with your kids and we’ve also got a FREE recipe booklet for you to download!

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