Cooking with your kids

kiki baking

I LOVE baking with my kids {and I love even more having kids who are now big enough to bake all by themselves!!}. Ever since Lola was a tot, I’d have her in the kitchen with me when I was baking. She’d sit on the worktop in our tiny kitchen, helping to mix the cake batter, measure out pasta and do the all important taste testing. With four kids, I pretty much always have a helper whether I’m baking or making dinner, and it’s great to get them involved. I think it’s the best way to learn to cook and bake – hands on and watching someone else. It’s such an important life skill, being able to cook proper meals, and of course, everyone needs to be able to bake a cake or three.

Even toddlers can help out – get them adding in ingredients, pouring and stirring. As they get older, you can hand them more responsibilities and just be by their side to oversee what they’re doing. My seven year old can happily make a batch of cupcakes with just a little help to get them in the oven and out again, my ten-year old can whip up a batch of cookies or a simple lunch, and follow a new recipe by herself, and my thirteen-year-old has mastered chilli con carne and curry recently.

it’s a great confidence booster for kids to make a meal for the family, or a batch of cakes to share with friends. Building an interest in food, and why what we eat is so important is a vital building block in life. I hear so many stories of teens who leave home for the first time and can’t even boil an egg. I try to always have someone helping me when I cook an evening meal, doing the tasks that they can manage, but watching and observing how to make different meals. We talk about why we’re eating what we do, where foods come from – I once remember being told of a child who didn’t know that chips were made from potatoes, or what an onion was. For a family who pretty much always cook from scratch, I can’t imagine my children not knowing everyday veg like that.

Here are my top tips for getting your kids involved in the kitchen:

1| Allow extra time – especially with younger children, plan for things to take longer than normal – remember for them, the making part is as much fun as the end result!

2| Prep ahead – if you’re working with little ones, getting everything measured out and chopped ahead of time can make a huge difference. With toddlers and pre-schoolers, I’ll weigh out all the ingredients, and pop everything into separate bowls so it’s ready to go – their attention span isn’t always long enough to cope with all the prep.

3| Read the recipe together – a great way to practice reading skills! Reading through the recipe is a great opportunity to talk through the whole process, talking through all the steps and dividing up tasks.

4| Taste testing – in my mind, this should totally be encouraged!! My favourite memory of cooking when I was little was tasting the cake mix! If we’re cooking a meal, they’ll always be some testing of the raw veg as we cook.

5| Step back – as they grow, both in age and confidence, step back and let them take the lead. I’ll normally be pottering around the kitchen so I’m on hand for any questions or to help if needed, but it’s a great step to let them do as much or all of the tasks by themselves.

6| Let them use knives – I think it’s important to teach knife skills from a young age {this is a good read for how to teach toddlers to use knives}

7| Start simple – don’t jump in at the deep end wit ha complicated recipe – start with something quick and easy like these cookies, or a simple greek salad and build up slowly – my favourite thing any of mine have made was Kiki’s salted caramel shortbread!

8| Lastly – EMBRACE THE MESS – cooking with kids can be messy, so let go of any expectations of it being any other way and just have fun!

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