It’s never too early to introduce your children to the culinary world. Involving the kids in cooking from a young age helps them develop an interest in what they eat and where food comes from.
When you involve your little ones in the cooking process, you’re not only helping them build their maths and fine motor skills, but you’re also making your life easier by encouraging them to be more adventurous with food – goodbye fussy eaters!
All it takes is a little patience from you while they explore their senses, but in due course you’ll see the benefits of allowing them to help create tasty dishes from scratch. The small boost it gives their confidence is just one of many!
Our guide below suggests how to get your kids involved in the kitchen, depending on their age. So now you can look forward to a sous chef the next time you whip up your family’s evening meal.
It'll take a little patience, but soon you’ll see the benefits of letting your kids help with the cooking
At the age of two it’s a good time to slowly start teaching your toddler the names of simple ingredients like common fruits and vegetables. As they become more familiar, ask them to grab those ingredients for you. Let them try: Passing the apples, oranges and carrots.
Prepare Raw Foods
Get your kids involved in creating dishes that don’t require any chopping or heating. Ask your little one to wash and tear ingredients like lettuce or herbs and count out and add individual ingredients like cherry tomatoes. Let them try: Scattering the pizza toppings.
Shake, Stir, Mix, Toss Cold Foods
Make your kids feel like they’re part of mealtime preparation by letting them stir in ingredients with a wooden spoon, then test out other kitchen utensils such as whisks and rubberised tongs. Let them try: Mixing pancake batter, tossing salads and shaking dressings and stirring sauces – but check the temperature first!
Pour Dressings and Sauces
This is a good way to train your toddler to identify lines and numbers. Help your child pour dressings and ingredients like flour and sugar into measuring spoons or cups. Let them try: Using a measuring spoon to add the correct amount of salad dressing.
Press Kitchen Appliance Buttons
You already know how much three-year-olds love buttons from the amount of time they spend playing with the television remote! Once you’ve filled up your appliance and secured it, ask your child to help press the power button, they’ll watch the food spin around in food processors and blenders in awe. Let them try: Pressing the start button next time you make a smoothie or soup.
Spread Soft Pastes
At this age, your kids should be familiar with using cutlery on their own. While they may be used to using a fork or spoon, a knife may seem a bit foreign. Let them try: Applying their favourite spread to their morning toast with a blunt knife.
Make sure your young baker has clean hands and tell them to push down and fold to knead the dough. Let them try: Kneading cookie dough and cutting out individual cookies – they’ll love the cute cutter shapes and peeling each cookie from the large sheet.
Peel Thick-skinned Ingredients
This one is great for building fine motor skills but requires a pinch of muscle and a few ounces of patience from both you and your pre-schooler. Let them try: Peeling their own hard-boiled egg at breakfast. Too easy? Move on to a thicker-skinned fruit or veg, like an orange.
Mash Soft Ingredients
Your kids have already learned to stir, mix and toss but mashing is what they’ve been looking forward to most. Let them try: Using a fork to monster mash bananas, cooked beans and potatoes.
Cut Fruit and Veg
From the age of four you can start to introduce cutting to your pre-schoolers cookery skills. It’s a big step but if your child is ready for the challenge, why not? Remember to do a quick run through a scissor and knife safety demonstration each time you hand over the tools. Let them try: Cutting parsley and green onions with kid-safe scissors, then moving onto cutting fruits with small knives.
Pass Labelled Ingredients
Now that your child has started school, they’ll be learning to read. Get him or her to pass you labelled ingredients, unbreakable ones only! You’ve got an extra pair of helping hands, lucky you! Let them try: Passing you basics like milk, butter and cheese.
Identify numbers and measuring lines, check. Pouring on their own, check, and now to the next stage. Let them try: Pouring or spooning ingredients into measuring cups. As they become more comfortable with numbers, get them to start weighing ingredients on scales.