Family Encyclopedia >> Food

Tips for cooking with children

Cooking with kids is super fun and well worth the time and mess, even with the weirdest inedible dish. There is a lot of room for creativity, not to mention a sense of achievement at the end. Teach your kids these life skills and you may soon have a little chef in your home.

1. Take your time – expect everything to take longer than usual, so schedule extra time. Moreover, especially for younger children, the journey is just as fun as the destination!

2. Expect a lot of junk – cooking can get messy and when children are involved, much more. Minimize the mess by placing a plastic tablecloth on the floor or a tray under their work area. But in the end, you'll have more fun if you let the mess happen and then clean up together at the end.

3. Plan ahead – select an easy recipe, one that they will enjoy and that is appropriate for their age. Make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment to hand. If necessary, do some preparation before asking them to help.

4. Prepare them – put them on clothes that you don't mind getting dirty. Put on an apron and tie up long hair.

5. Teach them about food hygiene – make sure they wash their hands before and between handling raw and cooked or ready-to-eat food.

6. Run through the recipe – read through the steps beforehand (or have them read themselves if they can), find out what is needed, discuss the process and plan who will do what.

7. Teach them about food – while you cook, talk about ingredients and their origin, cooking processes and techniques. Cooking can be a great way to learn about science, geography and math in a practical way. It is also good for fine motor skills and coordination.

8. Taste – this will make the experience more enjoyable for them, plus it is a good opportunity to teach children which foods are safe to eat raw. Ask them to use a clean spoon to taste and not to do this with their fingers.

9. Age and ability – many children's recipes have age guidelines, but look at your own child and what she or he can do. There are always activities for every child, even if it's just washing vegetables.

10. Make it fun! – Kids will learn to cook when you relax and have fun in the kitchen. If you feel nervous, start with basic recipes, they are still a good learning experience. Only help when absolutely necessary, let them enjoy and create differently.