Tips for Cooking with Children

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!

Kid's cooking class

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!

Girl cooking and baking

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!

See Also
Potato peeler
Keeping Safe
Baking utensils
Basic Equipment

8 thoughts on “Tips for Cooking with Children”

  1. Great ideas. I truly believe that kids are prepared to try a lot more food when they’re involved in food preparation or cooking.

    Amy loves helping out in the kitchen and she’s really proud when she can say that she helped prepare a certain part of the meal.

  2. I love cooking with the little ones. It’s a great activity as it covers all 7 areas of learning and development (I’m a childminder so always get lots of great observations when we cook)….but I always have multiple ages so the kids just have to do LOTS of turn taking when we bake together. Great tips.

  3. Sometimes it can be hard to let go of the reigns and let kids help. Many times we only think of the mess we will have to clean up, but there is so much more than a mess happening when we let kids in the kitchen.

    Life skills and independence fat out weigh the clean up process 🙂

  4. Fantastic. So often we cook sweet stuff with young children like cakes, when in many ways it is more beneficial and rewarding to teach them how to cook savoury dishes – as you say, it encourages them to try new tastes as research shows they are more likely to eat what they’ve cooked themselves.

    (I wrote about this – as well as lots of other top tips – in my book on my fussy eating: Getting the Little Blighters to Eat)

    And the one-to-one, side-by-side thing is invaluable I think.

  5. Looks like you had a lot of fun here! I do enjoy cooking with my children. I ought to make more of an effort to include them.

    As it is, they are usually doing their homework after school when I’m getting the dinner on.. time constraints and all!

    I threw DD a baking birthday party with no fewer than 22 children this year – it was surprisingly easy to get so many kids to follow instructions, but plenty of adult helpers made it a bit easier I think! ?

  6. As you can imagine, I love this post! So so happy you were inspired to include them in everyday cooking; it’s really what Tickle Fingers is all about.

    The looks on their faces say it all. Your point about doing it one-on-one is a very good one.

    I try to do that too because as you say, it’s much easier and special for both you and them to have that quality time on a regular basis.

  7. I love this post and idea. We bake together, but I rarely prepare meals with the kids. Your tips are great and I can see how much the children enjoyed getting involved, too. Lovely to make it a regular thing going forward x

  8. Brilliant tips and I love that you’re planning to make it a regular tradition with having one-to-one time in the process.

    I have done a bit of baking with Jessica but not yet got her involved with making dinner – maybe I should give it a try!

    Your three look like they had a wonderful time and sounds like the dishes were very tasty too 🙂

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