It’s important to get kids interested in food and cooking from a young age. Keep things fun and your kitchen helper will gain confidence whilst learning about different flavours and textures, as well as gaining an understanding of eating a balanced diet. Here are our top tips for cooking with kids.
Start them young
There’s no need to wait for a child to be a specific age to start getting involved with meal times. Baby-led weaning (when children start their solid food journey through finger foods and feeding themselves rather than purees) allows babies to get to grips with a range of foods at an early age.
From around 6 months old, or when baby can sit up unaided, they can experiment with a variety of foods. Let them join in with family mealtimes and use their senses to explore a range of tasty treats. Embrace the mess and remember they will still get most of their nutrition from milk: ‘Food is for fun before one’.
There are a few important rules like no honey before one, limit salt and sugar and make sure food is big enough to hold but not so small that they can choke (e.g. cut grapes into quarters).
Try sticks of boiled carrot, toast soldiers or make these porridge fingers.
Eat the rainbow
It’s sometimes tricky to get kids to eat their 5-a-day. Try to make fruit and veg exciting by getting them to make their own salad. Fill bowls with some brightly coloured ingredients and get the children to create a work of art on their plate. It could even be themed e.g. a gruesome ghoul for Halloween.
You could also get out in the garden and get growing. Kids love to watch the journey from seed to plate. Thinks like cress and herbs can be potted indoors or if you have the space, a little veggie patch will provide hours of fun and a passion for produce.
Time to shop
Fussy eaters? Give them some control over what they eat. Plan a menu together and pop to the shops to buy the ingredients. Get them to choose the items they need, tick items off the list and help you to scan and pack. You could even sneak in some numeracy and literacy while you’re there! Once home, they can help you to prepare their menus before enjoying the meal together.
No cook wonders
If you’re slightly nervous about some of the dangers in the kitchen, start off with some easy recipes with little to no cooking required. Try these banana ice lollies, make some fruit kebabs or fill small bowls with tasty ingredients so they can make and fill their own wraps.
Develop their confidence
Feeling brave? Kids love some responsibility in the kitchen and under your watchful eye can get involved in some of the more adventurous kitchen tasks. Chopping fruit and veg will help to develop their fine motor skills and you can even get kid-safe knives like these for some added reassurance.
Young chefs like Matilda Ramsey and Buddy Oliver can also provide inspiration in the kitchen with some great kid-friendly recipes to try at home.