They say the best way to teach kids about healthy eating is to get them in the kitchen, and cooking is an essential life skill as well as helping to educate them on food safety and nutrition.
Involving kids in the food preparation process might sound daunting (and messy!) but it’s also an excellent opportunity to learn, interact and spend time together.
If you’re reading this because you’re keen to introduce your kids to cooking but don’t know where to start, in this collaborative post are some ideas for getting children comfy in the kitchen and teaching them the fundamental skills they’ll need to become little chefs.
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All you need is a little creativity and some essential preparation!
8 ways to introduce kids to cooking
1. Start with basic cooking skills
Most children don’t have the skills to blanch, sauté, or chop, so start with some basic cooking skills to guide them through the kitchen. Spend some time teaching them some simple cutting techniques, how to wash and store vegetables in the fridge the proper way, and other fundamental skills like how to use a potato peeler. If you don’t feel confident you could enrol them in a virtual class which you could do together.
2. Take baby steps
The simple trick when it comes to cooking is to take little steps. Cleaning fruits and veggies, cutting lettuce leaves, weighing and pouring ingredients are excellent places to start. Then, as your child’s confidence and coordination grow, you can introduce them to specific child-safe equipment and utensils.
Begin by giving your children simple, step by step directions for creating milkshakes or desserts, and let them explore as they learn. Smaller children may need more practice in understanding and following rules in this manner and gaining a sense of accomplishment as well as self-esteem. With older children, you may feel more confident to let them choose a recipe they would enjoy and practice preparing it together.
3. Teach them about hygiene and safety
Along with the more technical culinary skills, safety and hygiene in the kitchen are also crucial to master. Show them how to wash their hands properly before preparing food and handling raw meat, and create rules in the kitchen that they must abide by. For example, no jumping, running, dancing, and playing. It’s also important to remind your children to concentrate on the work at hand if they’re using sharp utensils or the cooker to avoid any mishaps.
4. Allow them to do grown up tasks
Kids will feel a sense of achievement by being given essential duties to do while cooking. Involve them in the entire food preparation process, from planning to cooking, learning and acquiring skill and confidence in the kitchen, and letting them enjoy the finished product.
5. Explain how kitchen appliances work
Understanding how to utilise different kitchen utensils and appliances correctly is a vital part of food preparation. They may appear perplexing and daunting to children initially but their confidence will develop as they mature and gain experience with them. Defrosting and heating food in the microwave is a great place to start.
6. Go food shopping together
Including children in prepping meals can allow them to understand food and their components better. Create a shopping list together, think about healthier options, and teach them to check the nutrition labels. Doing this from a young age will set them up for later life.
7. Make fun snacks
Making food into art is a great way to introduce youngsters to cooking. For example, making a sailboat out of a banana or a snowflake out of a pancake gets youngsters excited about meals and cooking overall. It also fuels their creativity.
8. Let them help around the kitchen
And that includes the tidying up! Involving kids in the day-to-day running of the kitchen is a great life skill and it’s never too early to start. For example, Violet loves helping to empty the dishwasher (even though most of the cutlery ends up in the wrong cupboards and drawers!) and Marigold loves licking things clean!
This is a collaborative post.