Encouraging Curious Junior Chefs
Encouraging curious junior chefs - Get into the kitchen with your kids and whip up something tasty for the whole family
Get into the kitchen with your kids and whip up something tasty for the whole family
Cooking with little ones is a brilliant way to teach them essential skills, improve their knowledge of food and introduce them to new and exciting flavours. Through cooking with you, they’ll get a hands-on education in nutrition and discover ingredients they may have never seen before. Here’s what you need to know about encouraging curious junior chefs.
The benefits of cooking with children
Cooking with children can have amazing benefits for the whole family. Through whipping up new recipes you’ll be adding dishes to your repertoire and might find your new midweek favourite. Here’s why you should be cooking with your kids:
New ingredients: Although kids might have seen pictures of different fruits and vegetables, there’s nothing quite like seeing them up close. When cooking with little ones, ask them to describe how things look, smell, feel and taste. Cooking can be a real sensory experience.
Teaching them about nutrition: Once they’ve found new flavours that kids adore, you could add chopped veggies and variety into their weekly menus. This will help them make good food choices that will continue throughout their childhood and beyond school life.
Teaching teamwork: As your sous chef, your child won’t be diving straight into prepping a three-course meal from the word go. Instead they’ll be assisting you with age appropriate tasks like measuring out ingredients, chopping and giving things a stir. You’ll be directing them, working together as a team.
Boost their confidence: Seeing the finished meal will be a huge sense of achievement for budding junior chefs and give them ownership over their food and the flavours they enjoy.
Maths practice: You can even slip in some maths practice too. Get them to help you calculate measurements with simple addition or subtraction if you’re adapting a recipe to the number of people in your family.
Learn to follow instructions: Kids will naturally want to forge ahead and get going, but cookery sometimes isn’t that simple. When you’re preparing your dish, get them to slow down and help you read the recipe step-by-step to see what comes next.
Techniques for encouraging children to cook
There’s a few things you’ll need to know before diving in with your junior chef. After washing hands, exploring in the ingredients and laying out your equipment, here are our top techniques for encouraging children to cook:
- Find recipes they’ll enjoy. Any recipe can be a good starting point and it doesn’t need to be specifically tailored to children, but be a balance between flavours they enjoy with new ones to explore.
- Leave a good amount of time. Don’t forget this will be a slower process than the usual dinner prep. Make sure you leave a good amount of time to prepare and cook, otherwise you’ll feel rushed to be done in time, which brings us to
- Be patient. It’s natural to want to jump in and give them a hand, but if your little one is safe and just going slow, let them. Don’t forget it may all be new to them with actions and hand grips they might not be used to.
Cooking activities for children
Children will want to get stuck in, and making easy recipes, like those with rice, are the perfect way to get started. Although each child will have their own abilities, you could start with them helping you with tasks like:
- Rinsing rice or washing vegetables
- Pouring warm or cool liquid ingredients
- Chopping soft ingredients (this can be done with a dull butter knife to be safe)
- Adding ingredients into the bowl/pot
- Measuring/counting ingredients
- Older children could stir the pan (always under close supervision and with the pan handle pointing towards the back of the hob)
- Helping to plate up
- Setting the table and getting drinks
Being safe in the kitchen with children
Cooking can be fun but it’s always best to be safe. Don’t let children handle hot pans or boiling water and make sure you’re keeping a close eye on them at all times. Kitchen accidents can happen in a split second so give little ones your full attention. When you’re going through the recipe and ingredients, set out everything you need at the start so you don’t need to nip across the room to grab a spoon or strainer.
It can be so rewarding seeing your little ones discover new favourite flavours and getting them to help will set them up for the future. Remember, always wash your hands and have fun!