Getting kids into the kitchen
As we settle into a new normal of staying at home and social distancing, it can be hard for children to understand why their world has been turned upside down. From tots to teens, cooking and baking with your children is a lovely way to create happy family memories and keep some level of normalcy.
It looks like banana bread is going to be the favourite recipe for kids to bake in lockdown, if social media is to be believed. Getting kids into the kitchen will give them something to do and is a great way of teaching them new skills – and having some fun at the same time.
One of the most important life lessons we can teach our kids is how to cook themselves a
decent meal. What better opportunity to help give your tribe a little independence than to encourage them to cook, stir, chop, whisk and bake ‘til their heart’s content?
Cooking and baking can be a good way to incorporate some basic educational skills as part of your home-schooling routine. Reading recipes, weighing ingredients and transforming simple ingredients into a cake, curry or soup teaches your children simple reading, writing, maths and science skills.
Teaching children a few basic, essentials skills will set them up well for life. You are likely to find that the more your children cook and experiment in the kitchen, the more likely they are to try new foods and flavours.
From tots to teens
Children of all ages can get involved in the kitchen. If you have pre-schoolers, they can help wash vegetables, tear or squash herbs, measure out ingredients on to a weighing scale or stir ingredients in a bowl. Just get them an apron and allow them to explore and play – taking care around anything that is hot or sharp. Don’t worry too much if the first attempts at cooking are messy and almost inedible. The fact that they are engaged and interested is fantastic and to be encouraged!
From an early age, children can set the table, and get involved in planning the family’s meals for the week ahead. That way they are more likely to want to explore different tastes and textures and have a more varied palate.
As children get a little older, their skills can be developed to help with other skills such as sieving, grating and chopping. There are some great children’s safety chopping knives available online these days.
As children reach ages eight to 10, they will be able to follow a basic recipe with a little bit of help and supervision from an adult. Ideas like smoothies, homemade soup, pancakes or egg muffins can work well.
Family cook challenge
If you have bored teenagers at home, getting them to cook will give them something to do. Why not set teens a challenge to cook a meal for the family once a week? It could be curry, pizza or homemade burgers. It doesn’t have to be mega healthy. Get them to explore recipes they like the look of online and see what they come up with.
It can be fun to bring a bit of healthy competition into it too. Like a family version of ‘Come Dine with Me’ – take it in turns to cook for each other and set up a scoring system, with a prize for the winner, of course!
Take this unique opportunity to make mealtimes an occasion. Do a 7 day meal plan together, deciding what you would like to eat in the coming week, and then use that to build a shopping list.
Cook together, set the table and sit down and enjoy mealtimes as a family.
This is the perfect opportunity to do all those things we never had the time (or patience!) for. So what better way to inspire than cooking and baking with your children.
Read Jane’s previous blog post: Vital Nutrition for Immune Support