How can I start getting my child interested in cooking?

Cooking is great for children for so many reasons! It helps teach them a few key life skills. They begin to understand the basics of good nutrition and it also helps learn important physical and mental skills.

You can begin cooking with your children from a very young age, and often, the sooner you start the quicker they become confident little chefs!

Why is cooking great for kids?

When you let your kids help you out in the kitchen, you’re obviously teaching them valuable life skills. However, baking a cake or frying the perfect eggs aren’t the only lessons you can give your children in the kitchen.

You can also use cooking as an opportunity to teach your kids about everything from tidying up after themselves to chemistry.

When you’re working with your kids in the kitchen, clean up as you go along. This will help your children think of clearing counters and dishes as a part of the cooking process and save them (and you) a lot of work once the meal is finished.

For the Younger Kids

Even with children aged 3-5, begin to include them in the kitchen participation in various activities. A few things to include would be:

  • Letting them organise the colours of different foods
  • Get them to count how many items of food they are
  • Mashing potatoes or bananas
  • Ripping up lettuce leaves
  • Sorting ingredients into different bowls
  • Placing ingredients in the bowl
  • Lots of mixing and whisking
  • Teach them slowly how to crack an egg – this might take a couple of attempts!
  • Look at cookbooks or recipes in food magazines and talk about what you can see

Older Children

As your children start to get older, we can really start to develop different skills and responsibilities.

Let’s look at a few ideas for kids aged 5 and up:

  • Increase key skills such as kneading dough, peeling vegetables, cutting soft fruit, rolling out pastry and grating cheese (make sure you have child friendly equipment first and supervise.)
  • Give them control for making certain meals – for example, giving the full control of making a sandwich can be a great way to test skills and judgement. Perhaps a salad.
  • You can also get them to read out ingredients and, as they get older, follow step-by-step instructions. If you treat it like a game, it can make for a fun activity where you’re both learning together.
  • Consider letting them choose the meals for a couple of days? Get out a cookbook or look online and decide what the family will have. Meal planning is a great way to get your child analysing and thinking about the needs of everyone.
  • Next time you’re out shopping why not give an individualised shopping list to your child? Let them look at the different options and prices and help them make decisions.

So, there are just a few ideas for you and the kids to get your ‘Masterchef’ on and whip up a storm in the kitchen! 

Parents shouldn’t be afraid to have kids in the kitchen. The right supervision over knives and hot surfaces is important, but the amount of learning opportunities definitely outweighs the challenges!