There don’t seem to be enough hours in the day for busy parents – we know, we are those busy parents too. But it’s still important to share some of that time imparting the cooking skills you have to your kids/nieces/nephews/young cousins. We try and do it at the weekend at least. Some people suggest preparing breakfast, but if your morning routine is like ours… that will NOT work.
It doesn’t matter what level of chef you are – the basics are the key here. So whether it’s learning to boil a kettle safely or trying something from a kids cook book… these are important life lessons for kids. Here are our top tips for teaching your kids all about cooking (and a bit of health and safety for good measure!).
Why Teach Kids Cooking Early?
A report by the American Heart Association showed that cooking together as a family, as well as encouraging kids to try new foods and healthy foods, could help for:
- Reducing the number of meals eaten outside the home.
- Having structured times for family meals.
- Offering healthier, low-calorie foods.
- Involving children in meal planning, shopping, and food preparation.
Some of the short-term benefits:
- Kids feel like they are accomplishing something and contributing to the family.
- Kids are more likely to sit down to a family meal when they helped prepare it.
- Parents get to spend quality time with their kids.
- Kids aren’t spending time in front of the TV or computer while they’re cooking.
- Kids generally aren’t eating junk food when they’re cooking a meal at home.
Cooking together can also bring about lots of long-term benefits too:
- Learning to cook is a skill your children can use for the rest of their lives.
- Kids who learn to eat well may be more likely to eat healthily as adults.
- Positive cooking experiences can help build self-confidence.
Safety in the Kitchen with Kids
Kids need clear guidelines about safety in the kitchen. Tailor this to their age and abilities. Learn about heat, fire (if you happen to have a gas hob for instance), keeping food prep areas clean and even how to hygienically handle raw meat and fish etc.
The Food Standards Agency issued a fun quiz for parents and kids to recognise potential hazards and hygiene problems in the kitchen. You can download the free pack here:
But let’s just get back to basics here, because it’s ingrained into our adult psyche to take care in the kitchen and we tend to forget that little ones have never burned themselves on a hot oven door or slipped on a spill. There are some basic rules of kitchen club…
The first rule of Kitchen Club is you don’t talk about Kitchen Club… wait, no. The rules are:
Age-Appropriate Kitchen Tasks for Kids
Check out our chores for each age group. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules – you know your kids and what they’re capable of. So feel free to change these any way you see fit, but this should give you a handy guide to what kids can cope with in the kitchen.
Cook books for kids
There are plenty of cook books available that are geared towards cooking with children. They are easy to follow and most aim to use fewer ingredients than a Gordon Ramsey masterpiece, for instance. Here are some of our favourites:
Maw Brown’s ‘Cooking With Bairns’ is aimed at helping children master basic cookery techniques while learning to cook. ‘I Want To Be A Chef – Baking’ helps kids master a few simple techniques – then many seriously ‘grown-up’ items are well within the grasp of budding young chefs.
Gordon Ramsey’s wife Tana has brought out her own recipe book – coupling easy recipes you can make for the family, but also getting them together and cooking in the kitchen. This lavishly illustrated cookbook is an adventure in the kitchen for adults and children alike. Jennifer Low’s Everyday Kitchen for Kids is ideal for younger kids – no sharp knives are used, no hob-top cooking, all the recipes have been tested by children themselves and every recipe is photographed.