Pots, pans and patience at the ready, knives blunted and safety goggles in place, it’s time to open up the kitchen to the kids. While cooking with the little ones rarely results in gourmet dishes (unless you’re Gordon Ramsay and you do all of the work of course) it can certainly be a lot of fun. Teaching children kitchen skills like cutting and chopping can help prepare them for a life of nourishment and good, honest eating. 

On top of that, life lessons ranging from science and math to problem-solving and planning are all flexed and realised. To make the experience painless and, whisper it, even a little fun, check these out; our 7 IDEAL ways to have fun cooking with kids.

DECIDE ON A RECIPE 

Weekends are best for experimenting in the kitchen with kids; don’t expect a pacy affair, instead settle in for something low and slow. Grant yourself the time to pore over a few recipes to find one that’s easy but enjoyable. Get all of the ingredients in advance and lined up so you have everything on hand. This enables to little ones to visualise the experience. 

And don’t just make the dish – also serve it up on a beautiful plate. Putting together the final presentation is a great way for kids to flex their creative muscles and grants you the opportunity for a photo session too.

GIVE THEM SPACE

As tempting as it might be to clean up their mess or help with the heavy lifting, give your kids space to experiment. Allowing them to do things on their own will help build confidence and their skill set. Be on hand to take on the more difficult tasks and offer guidance, of course, but also allow some independence.

LET THE MAKE CHOICES 

Get them involved in the process by asking for their input. From choosing pizza toppings to burrito fillings, to making an ooey gooey chocolate chip cookie recipe – kids love to have their say in every part of the journey. Though not everything they make may taste good, the sense of autonomy will lead to a more responsible, happy cook and eater in the future.

TRY BREAKFAST FIRST

Having kids cook breakfast on a weekend day is a great way to get them started in the kitchen, as this is usually the most simple meal of the day. Easy dishes like eggs, fresh fruit, waffles, pancakes, or smoothies are great choices as they require little effort and fewer ingredients, but still get your kids thinking about food and nutrition in a positive way.

MAKE THINGS OUT OF DOUGH 

Kids love to make things out of Play-Doh and clay, as a million ruined carpets can attest to. Playing with dough in the kitchen is the same basic concept; malleable, imaginative and seemingly never ending in its creative possibilities. With that in mind, try making soft pretzels, twisted breadsticks, or pizza, as that tactile element will keep a wandering attention span on track.

GET ALL OF THEIR SENSES INVOLVED 

Help kids develop a love of cooking by immersing all of their senses in the experience of cooking. That means listening to the food frying in the pan, feeling how soft fresh herbs are when cutting them, or trying to identify different herbs and spices simply by the way they smell. A wonderful life lesson in encouraging a mindful appreciation of the world, this.

MAKE SURE THEY ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING TO DO

Even though there are parts of the meal preparation process they may not be able to help with, there are plenty of small cooking tasks for kids to keep their interest peaked. For instance, adding spices to the dish, placing toppings, tenderizing meat with a mallet, crunching dry breadcrumbs, breaking eggs, oiling baked goods before cooking them, grinding spices, chopping nuts, or shaking up salad dressing are all great tasks for kids who want to use their hands.

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