Starting with the basics when your child is young is key to getting them interested in cooking and food.
It may seem silly but once your kids are able to walk, they can begin learning the basics of food preparation and in time, cooking. Children need to be self-sufficient, especially as they become older. In a few years, they might be heading off to college and they will need to know the basics at least.
Starting with the basics when your child is young is key to getting them interested in cooking and food. More importantly, children who prepare and cook food usually have a healthy attitude to eating and eat better as a result.
Here are some tips on teaching the basics:
Start with preparation – Your tiny youngster may not be able to make a curry, but they will be able to help with preparing food. Invest in some special knives for your child to use so they feel important and gift them their very own apron.
Don’t forget to teach them the basics of hygiene first and start as you mean to go on. Here are some things your kiddie needs to know once they are cooking or preparing food in the kitchen:
Washing hands – Teach your nipper to wash their hands properly, get them a little step to reach the sink themselves and teach them the need to wash hands regularly as they switch between meat or veg.
Show your child the difference between cooked and raw foods - Teach them to use different chopping boards and how to store food properly and safely when not in use.
Hygiene basics – It is important that they know to wash food before preparing it and they should tie their hair back before handling food as well as understanding the risk of cross-contamination.
Safety first – Your child needs to know there is no place for messing in the kitchen with hot surfaces and sharp objects. Yes, it should be fun but stop short of allowing the kids to push each other around.
Show them where everything goes – They should also know how things work including the hob, oven and fridge. Teach them how to keep themselves safe in the kitchen and ensure they know where the fire extinguisher is and the number to emergency services.
Explain food – There are so many foods and though you don’t want to overcomplicate the issue it is good for your children to understand the difference between cauliflower, broccoli or eggs and yes, we know taste is one way to differentiate them but think about the way you cook it and how you chop/prepare it. Knife skills are important too and though you don’t want your child to chop their fingers off they should be able to chop softer foods carefully. They won’t learn unless you let them! Don’t take over!
Start simple – Kids love baking and even when they are barely able to hold their crayons for too long kids will enjoy the process of adding sprinkles to cupcakes. It is vital for you to include your kids from a young age even when they aren’t fully able. Show them how you bake and cook. Involve them as much as you can and let it grow over the months and years as their skills develop. Your child could measure ingredients with your help, stir things and move things away when not needed. All while you help them, from the time you start chopping veg to serving it up!
Keep working on it – As your child grows, they should be able to be more involved with some supervision as there is a danger in the kitchen. Teach your child how to read the recipes themselves and leave them to make simple things first like toast, scrambled eggs or beans. They will probably make a huge mess but think about how they will learn and once they are a teenager, they should be able to replicate dinners you have taught them to cook over the years.
Now that would be cool!
Emma Hayes is a thirty-something mum of two girls aged 16 and 10, planting her right into the teenage and tween-age years! Follow her on Twitter at @EmmaHayes25.