I’m a slack Mummy when it comes to kids and cooking. I admit that I am reluctant to encourage my kids to help me in the kitchen. I imagine mess and accidents and mess and lots of time… and did I mention, mess? When I cook I just want to get it over and done with and cleaned up. I don’t cook for pleasure. I cook with one part of my brain thinking about what else I could be doing!
Why then am I writing about kids cooking today?! Well, Little Miss just turned 9 years old and one of the gifts she received was a Junior Masterchef Cookbook, the yellow below. It is lovely – lots of pictures, easy to follow instructions, “not too tricky” recipes. So when she excitedly asked if she could cook, I didn’t have the heart to say “no” to her. Plus I had been listening to a podcast about a mother who had written about working on her kids’ attitude of entitlement by handing over more household responsibilities to them, and I had been considering my own kids and their household responsibilities.
So she chose some recipes and we popped out to collect ingredients.
First up, a fruit smoothie. Now if I made this for the kids, they would not have been interested. But because she made it herself, she was keen. It was so easy! Milk, yoghurt, raspberries, banana and orange zest went into the blender and that was afternoon tea taken care of. YUM!
The next recipe was a little more involved but she loved reading the instructions and making it. Eton’s Mess is a mixture of raspberries, strawberries, cream and meringue. There were a couple of processes to complete using knives and the stove, then some chill time before “plating up”. But I sat on the other side of the bench with my computer while she did the lot. For a girl who had not handled the sharp knife much and had never turned on the stove, she was very careful and it was scrumptious!
My Tips for Kids Cooking
- Let them choose the recipe – they are more likely to eat the result!
- Take them shopping for the ingredients – a great chance to learn some grocery shopping skills as well
- Talk about safety as you supervise – if they learn to be safe from the start, it will pay off later on
- Let them have a go – this is a hard one for me which is why I sat at my computer while she cooked: I could still keep an eye on things and chat to her but I was less inclined to jump in and “help” (Read: “take over”)
- Use a chair or stool for shorter kids so they are not put off by not being able to see or reach easily
- Start simple - like all things, that sense of achievement is a great motivator
If you’re interested in the Junior Masterchef books, here they are from Fishpond.
If you are interested in the book about having your kids help around the house, it is called “Cleaning House” by Kay Wills Wyma, and I heard about it in a podcast of an interview with the author via the Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast. Click on the book cover to see more about it on Fishpond.