Cooking with your Children

Cooking with Children - Cooking is a key life skill with many benefits. Look at these ideas to get your children involved in the kitchen.
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What is stopping you from cooking with your children?

Encouraging your child to help in the kitchen is developing a key life skill. Learning how to prepare healthy meals is so important. Getting children involved in the kitchen is a great way to encourage them to eat healthily. 

It’s never too early to start learning how to cook or to think about healthy food choices.

There are lots of other reasons to let your children join you in the kitchen. Cooking is such a great activity to share with them. It provides many opportunities to develop a whole range of skills. These include:

Problem solving

Expanding vocabulary

Fine motor control –  by simple things like snipping and tearing herbs and stirring or sprinkling to more advanced things like peeling, chopping and grating

Observing how ingredients combine, react, and change as they cook                                                      There are many skills that children can develop when cooking. Ideas on what they can do and achieve can be found here.

Describing what they can see, taste, and feel

Reading recipes

Helping to give an understanding of where food comes from

Developing mathematical skills such as:

  • Developing vocabulary – linked with counting, comparing, positioning etc.
  • Number recognition
  • Shape identification
  • Weighing
  • Measuring

Research suggests another benefit of cooking with children is that it is the best way to encourage healthy eating habits for life. It is also likely children are more open to try new foods when they have a hand in preparing or cooking them as they tend to love to eat what they create. Getting your children to eat more fruits and vegetables is also less challenging when they cook. Children who cook often demonstrate more confidence in their ability to choose (and eat) healthy foods both at home and at school.

So how do we get children interested in/encourage their enjoyment of cooking?

Cooking with small children engages all 5 of the senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting! What a great way to provide them with a wonderful sensory experience. Colourful foods and foods with a variety of textures helps stimulate the senses.

  • The most obvious way is to let them help out which involves messy fun. Embrace it!Cooking with Children - Marigold Buns - Baking is a great activity to do with children because it develops a range of skills.
  • Take them shopping to help choose the ingredients.
  • Encourage the children to help lay the table/make placemats/ table place cards.
  • Give them their own apron or how about making a fun chef’s hat?
  • Give them their own specific cooking equipment and equipment which is suitable for them to use.
  • Initially make things that are fun and quick to make. Limit the time spent on each recipe so they don’t get bored.
    Empower them to cook and create with these child friendly recipes.
  • Eat together as a family when possible so they can share what they have made.
  • Talk lots.
  • Play music while you cook & perhaps sing along!
  • Most children love stories. A storyCooking with Children - Kitchen Club Kids Books. These books are ideal to engage young children in healthy cooking activities. can sometimes be a good starting point/lead in to a cooking activity.
  • Most importantly have fun!

You might be surprised by how engaged young children can be when they are cooking and the sense of pride when they see their results. They love cooking something to give to someone else. Even if they start by adding pre prepared ingredients or stirring something you have put together this still gives them a sense of ownership.

Why not give it a go? You will have fun too!

Here are some really useful techniques for skills children need in the kitchen. Younger children who are not ready to handle a knife can do things like crushing tomatoes with their hands for a fresh tomato sauce or use a spoon to scoop out avocado flesh and a fork to mash it.

Helpful information on cooking and preparing food with young children.

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A Cornish Mum
LarabeeUK
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My Bored Toddler
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68 thoughts on “Cooking with your Children

  1. I agree with everything you’ve said. We like cooking together and do this quite frequently now. My son particularly likes to dress up in a chefs outfit to cook!
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

    1. Thanks! It’s such fun isn’t it! That’s great that he likes to dress in a chef’s outfit bless him! Thank you for hosting 🙂

  2. I’ve only recently started cooking with my mummy. I think mainly because she was worried about the mess…but that’s part of the fun surely? We now bake with each other once a week. This week we made gingerbread men! 🙂 it’s great fun #Letkidsbekids x

  3. I agree with you! Cooking with kids is such a great activity to do with kids. So much learning happens without them realizing it. Plus great bonding time too. Thanks for sharing at #ToddlerFunFriday

  4. This is excellent! I would love if you shared specific recipes that are toddler friendly. I try to get toddler in the kitchen (she loves to stir) but most of the time everyone is cranky from hunger and I just want to get dinner out fast! I need some advice/thoughts on how to get her in there with me but also get dinner out in a reasonable time haha Thanks for linking as always with #famjamlinky

    1. Thank you! I know what you mean about the time! There are some recipes on the site that you could look at but I will link one next week 🙂

  5. I agree with all of this! I love letting my little lady help, it makes her feel involved and she loves it. Great ideas on here! May encourage the choosing ingredients in Tesco, wonder what we would end up with!

    1. Thanks! Haha. I’m a pretty rubbish cook too. Sometimes it can really help, even though it can seem daunting. Good luck if you decide to give it a go! 🙂

  6. Cooking with my kids has been a priority of mine recently for these very reasons! I’ll have to admit that selfishly things are cleaner and faster without them in the kitchen, but the training is so valuable, I have to get over the mess. Thanks for the encouragement! #busydoinglife

  7. This is such a great post and something I need to do more of with my little man! We’re going to do homemade pizzas this week so looking forward to some messy fun. The only problem is, he picks at the toppings so by the time the pizza is actually cooked he’s full lol! #busydoinglife

  8. Hi, just reading around the Busy Doing Life linky.
    I love this post – my kids and I have always cooked together from when they are very small. I do find the younger ones ‘help’ annoying and avoid it at times but this has spurred me on to include them more.

    1. Thank you! Yes, I know exactly what you mean. It can also be such fun and rewarding too. Sometimes it is easier if all the ingredients are weighed/cut already or if they just help with particular bits – they still take ownership of it and develop skills which is great 🙂

  9. These are wonderful tips! I have yet to have my kiddos help me in the kitchen. After reading this I am going to find something they will want to help me with. #busydoinglife
    Kristen

  10. We love cooking together but I am rubbish at including our smallest (15mths) I ususally wait for nap time! I really must start to involve her more, she would love it and your post is very true, there is so much she is missing out on! Thankyou so much for sharing on #busydoinglife it’s lovely to see your posts every week!

    1. That is definitely often easier! It can be fun too though.I think it is about including the little ones on occasion to build up a bit of experience. Thank you for hosting! 🙂

    1. Hi Helen. Congrats on having a such a little one! What an exciting time ahead! It is amazing how quickly they grow and develop and she will soon be into everything in the kitchen – and everywhere else 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  11. I love the kids cooking in kitchen and encourage it when ever I can. I think it’s a great way to promote their independence and build their confidence as well as practicing maths skills. Thanks for the extra tips #busydoinglife

  12. Aah do you know? I thought long and hard about your initial question and I *know* that the thing that’s stopping me cooking with my children is Bertie’s egg allergy! The thought of him licking his fingers and us all taking a trip in an ambulance really puts me off. I knew that there are probably tons of ‘egg free’ recipes but it means spending time I don’t have looking for them. I need to get on with it and just do it!!! It would be such a lovely thing to do with them 🙂 Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday — hope to see you again next week! x

    Caro | http://www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

    1. I can completely understand that!! Sorry about Bertie’s allergy. It must be really stressful for you! I am lucky as none of my four have a food allergy. A lot of the recipes on here do not have egg in them – just the omelette and scrambled egg and then the marigold buns. Hope you manage to enjoy cooking with him at some point. Thank you for hosting 🙂

  13. This is a really inspiring post – I wouldn’t have thought cooking would have all those benefits but you’re right! My little one is a bit young to get too stuck in just yet but I’ll be getting him involved soon.
    Alana x
    #twinklytuesday

  14. I really do love cooking with my girls my kitchen is kinda small so it stops us and we usually end up baking as we can do that at the table but it would help them with trying new foods i must make more effort to get them in the kitchen! thanks for linking up to #kidscorner

  15. I need to cook more with my mummy too! We’re not big foodie fans and often it’s the last thing we think about. This has prompted me to get her to cook with me! Thank you x #TheList

  16. I really should do more cooking with Monkey we do the odd thing on an occasion – he always likes watching at dinner time too – will make more of an effort! #kidscorner

  17. This has nudged me to cook with Evie this week. I’ve been avoiding it thinking she’s too young (she’s 16 months, she’s really not too young). This is a great list for encouraging. 😀 I’ll let you know how it goes. xx #toddlerapprovedtuesday

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