What image do you conjure up when you hear the phrase ‘cooking with children’? Mess? Stress? Safety? Yes, me too. I think about the mess, whether the children will listen to my instructions and will take care with knives etc. It used to feel rather daunting…three small children let loose in the kitchen!
However, cooking with children is good for them, they can learn so much… food, motor skills, following instructions, listening skills and safety just to mention a few. Additionally, they get to explore tastes and textures, which suggests they are more likely to eat it having cooked it themselves and experienced it first hand. This has to be a winner. It was time to face the fear!
I have been reading a few posts from Tickle fingers (fab blog), which is all about cooking with toddlers. I watched a few videos of the children (toddlers) cooking and it looked so easy. They followed instructions brilliantly and had so much fun in the process, it inspired me to have a try, if they can cook this well, my slightly older children should be able to manage.
Hence, this week we have done a lot of cooking, not just baking cakes, but proper cooking of meals. We have all loved it! To help reduce the stress a little, I decided it was too much to cook with all three children at the same time (which I used to do), so they each have one to one time with me in the kitchen cooking a meal. They take it in turns, which is working brilliantly. It is so much easier working with one child, less stress, less mess, safer and the bonus is, they get one to one time. They think it’s wonderful!
First up BB made mini shepherds pies. He had a great time with daddy in the kitchen chopping, mixing and learning. He also turned it into a pretend restaurant. The pies tasted delicious, we would definitely make them again.Cooking with children
Next was Pinky who made stuffed peppers. She did brilliantly, I managed to relax a bit and let her take the lead more, not worrying if not all the rice went in the peppers. Everyone liked them and they were easier than I thought they would be.
Pinky also made pizza pasties for lunch, which were very simple, using pizza dough to make the pasty. She thought cutting up the mozzarella was the best part, a very easy way to learn to chop. Then we made almond cake for pudding and it was absolutely delicious, though I must admit, this is not a dessert we would cook every week…very rich and high in calories! We had a lovely lunch that day.
Lastly, Boo chose to make a fabulous fish pie. You can see from the look on her face chopping the parsley she was having a great time. I sadly forgot to take a photo of her dish, but it really did taste delicious, there was not a scrap left on anyone’s plate!
All three of my children cooked brilliantly, listened to my instructions, only made minimal mess and most importantly had a wonderful time making really amazing dishes. I must admit it did take quite a lot of time, much longer than it would have taken me, but it was a whole activity and we got dinner out of it…bonus! It was relatively stress free, so we are now aiming for one child to cook dinner every Thursday night.
My tips to stress free cooking with children are…
- Prepare everything in advance.
- Cook with one child at a time if possible.
- Allow plenty of time.
- Use simple recipes.
- It doesn’t matter if the result is not perfect, it’s the process that counts.
- Don’t worry about mess, it all cleans up.
If you are feeling daunted by the prospect of cooking with your children, I would urge you to give it a go using these tips, it’s good fun!