Top tips for cooking with young children, older children and teenagers.
Allow plenty of time. Cooking with children can take up to twice as long as normal.
Get organised. Make sure you have everything you need before you start. Check the recipe carefully and make a list of everything you need, including equipment.
Repeat after us: a bit of mess is ok. Don’t get stressed about it – it’s all part of the process. Clean up as you go and get kids to help with this too.
Who’s doing what? Put some thought into which cooking tasks your child will be able to do. To begin with, you may need to work this out by trial and error. If you’re cooking with more than one child, think about whether they’re going to take turns or have different jobs. A little bit of planning can save a lot of arguing!
Keep things simple to start with while you get a feel for what they can do.
Don’t panic if things go wrong. Even if your recipes don’t turn out like the pictures, you will have had fun and learned some lessons for the next time you try.
Kids have a limited attention span at this age – so have another activity on hand, like colouring, to keep them busy if their attention wanders. But with your supervision, they’ll love to pour, wash, mix (cool ingredients), sift, rub-in, mash, touch, taste and smell.
Recipes which involve mixing, combining and assembling like dips, bread, scones, muffins, layered fruit and yoghurt pots work really well.
Using their (clean) hands to squish berries to make compote is always a fun one!
Choose soft fruit and veg (like bananas, strawberries, melon, cucumber and mushrooms) for children of this age to use. Cut them into sizes which are easy for small hands to hold.
With close supervision from you, children can now start to learn how to chop and peel safely – and feel like real chefs in the process. They’ll love to try weighing and measuring, peeling, chopping, crushing, mixing, whisking, squeezing, sifting, grating, rolling, rubbing-in and mashing.
Get them decorating a pizza with as many different colours of vegetables as they can, or making a picture on their pizza using their toppings.
Link what they’re making with what’s important to them right now – edible Christmas decorations, parkin for Bonfire Night or something scary (though not scary-tasting!) for Halloween.