Kids feel useful and appreciated when they help you cook. They also learn about nutrition – plus fussy eaters are much more likely to gobble up what they helped make. So wash those little hands and get cracking!
1. Breakfast helpers
Breakfasts have loads they can do – not just buttering toast! If you use a grill, ask them to watch the toast and decide when it’s ready. Let them spread toppings, teaching how not to get butter in the jam.
Porridge is easy as it’s half the oats to milk. So give them an eggcup to measure out two cups of oats and four of milk each, and mix together. Then they can drizzle on honey or raisins once it’s microwaved.
2. Creative pizzas
Pizza is always a winner. Let them enjoy squirting out tomato puree and sprinkling on herbs, plus any toppings they like.
Grating cheese is generally safe – just use caution when you show them how. You can make pizzas out of baguettes and crusty rolls too!
3. Cake mixing
Cake mixing is an old favourite, and there are plenty of healthy recipes out there. Go for something with fresh or dried fruit, and everyone’s happy.
Just accept that their mixing won’t be 100% thorough, so whiz with the beater once they’re done.
Sandwiches are super for children of all ages to make. Start at weekends when there aren’t time constraints, and indulge them their play. Let them make mistakes, choose fillings and cut into shapes.
Start them young, and they’ll soon be mucking in when you’re making up a picnic!
5. BBQ help
Seasoning meat is often something the kids can enjoy with Dad – especially if you’re having a family barbecue. Cover up with aprons, and give them a step to reach.
Too many children don’t know where food comes from. So as well as teaching them about marinating, it’ll also be educational from a biology perspective!
6. Chopping vegetables
Chopping veggies isn’t necessarily dangerous. We’re so health and safety conscious now, we’re holding children back.
Choose a knife that at worst could graze a finger, and give smaller children softer things to cut. Whether you’re making soup or bolognese, there’s usually something they can help with.
7. Butter and flour
Anything that requires rubbing butter into flour is a winner. Just teach children to lift it above the bowl to keep cool, and be firm about when to stop before it goes grey!
Whether it’s scones, pastry or muffins you’re making, children can get involved.
Salads are great for children to help with – especially if they’ve helped grow, pick or choose the ingredients. Tearing lettuce and cutting cress with scissors are fun for children of any age.
Why not start with fruit salads or cubes on wooden skewers? They’ll love peeling bananas and plucking grapes, while you do the trickier peeling. You’ll up their five-a-day no problem!
9. Weighing ingredients
Weighing out ingredients is something children can do from Junior School age upwards. It’s a great way to learn, even if you’re doing it together while they’re little.
If you want recipes smaller ones can do themselves, choose those using cup measurements instead.
10. Cutting shapes
Finally don’t forget that old favourite, cutting shapes out with cutters! Whether it’s oaty biscuits or wholemeal jam tarts, this one’s always a winner.
Give in to the kitchen getting slightly messy. Instead relax and ponder on your own memories of baking with mum. The tidying can always wait!