Tips for having fun in the kitchen with kids

Kylie Archer from Kidgredients shares eight great tips to help you get cooking with your kids and have fun in the kitchen!

Hygiene first

Kids love to get their hands dirty, whether it’s in the backyard or in the kitchen, so any cooking together needs to start with clean hands. Make a habit of using a sink (other than the kitchen sink) for hand washing before cooking.  Don’t forget to dry your hands before starting to cook.

Choose a simple recipe

A key factor for successful cooking with kids is ensuring the recipe is simple and easy to follow.  The more involved a child is in the process the more fun that can be had, so as a rule, choose recipes which have a lot of hands on steps the kids can do. 

Cook with ingredients the kids are familiar with

Kids will feel more comfortable trying new recipes that contain familiar ingredients, so make sure that you aren’t going with ingredients totally different to what the kids are used to. I’m always amazed to see that my kids will try new things off the chopping board as we are cooking!

Choose recipes with tasks the kids can do

Some general ideas for tasks by age:

Ages 2-4: filling measuring cups and spoons and emptying them, mixing cold ingredients in a large bowl, rolling dough, filling cupcake trays, rolling bliss balls, kneading bread, cutting dough with cutters, washing up in cold water.
Ages 4-6: all of the 2-4 tasks plus some basic cutting (with a kid-safe knife),  measuring on scales, measuring in measuring jugs, topping pizzas, dividing dough, spiralising, grating, washing up in hot water with gloves.
Ages 6+: veggie peeling with a kid-safe peeler, mixing (supervised) at the stove, mixing hot and cold ingredients, shaping breads, flattening meats, mixing and rolling meatballs, grinding spices in a mortar and pestle, crushing garlic.
Don’t forget to adapt these tasks dependent on your child’s motor skills and ability to follow instructions.
child using measuring cup

Remember food safety

Use one chopping board for fruits and veggies, one for raw meat and another for cooked foods.  Be sure that all surfaces used are clean, and that all foods are within their expiry dates. Double check that cooked foods are cooked thoroughly (I recommend a thermometer for this) and to their recommended internal temperatures. Although it’s tempting, it’s best not to try uncooked batter due to the risk of salmonella from raw egg.

Have something ready to do during waiting periods

It’s really easy for kids to lose interest during any waiting periods in cooking, whether they are rising times or cooking times.  So have an activity that will fill the time so they don’t lose the momentum and sense of fun.  It can be as simple as loading the dishwasher, setting the table or even hand washing some of the utensils used in a bucket on the kitchen floor.

Talk it up

Whilst cooking with your child, talk about the tasks they are doing, for example: “you’re mixing really well”. Ask them questions, like “What are we putting in now?” The questions and conversation will help to consolidate the impact that the child has had on the cooking.  

Eat it together

The best part of a kid-cooked meal is eating it together as a family and talking about the successes (and failures) of the cooking.  Talk about what you might make next time, what the textures are like, how things changed in cooking, and most importantly, congratulate yourselves on a job well done! Celebrate your creation by keeping a family recipe book in which you keep track of the favourites and take a photo of them when you’ve cooked them.

I hope these tips help you to have a fun time in the kitchen with your kids!

Make little moments matter

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