What's your favourite dish to cook with kids?
I’m a huge advocate for getting kids in the kitchen, teaching them where their food comes from and how to prepare wholesome meals from scratch. Over the past four years, I’ve been teaching boys aged 7–14 how to cook in two after-school cooking clubs, Les Petits Chefs and Cooking Basics. We work in a science lab, mostly with just hot plates, but you might be surprised at what we can achieve in under an hour in those circumstances!
The idea of cooking with kids might be completely terrifying for you, but with just a little bit of advance preparation, it’s not that tricky. It would be nice to think that we could all just decide on a whim to cook or bake with our kids, but the truth is, it does involve some organization. You want the session to be fun, and if cooking feels and looks easy for kids, they’re more likely to want to help you out on a regular basis.
Simple advice such as making sure the workspace is clean, double-checking you have all the ingredients and equipment you need and reading the recipe before you start are all good rules of thumb for anyone in the kitchen (not just with kids!).
One of the most important decisions when cooking with kids is choosing which recipes to make. Give the kids the benefit of the doubt and don’t just go for easy options -- kids are so much more capable than you think -- and once they start cooking, you’ll be surprised how much they can do. Kids tend to have a fearless “can do” attitude toward cooking, so if you don’t tell them things are supposed to be complicated, they won’t know. ;)
Well, that’s all very well to choose interesting dishes to make with kids, but one of the biggest obstacles many people find cooking with kids is finding the time. Weeknights can be very busy with homework and after-school activities, so I always suggest that you start cooking with kids on weekends when there’s a little more time to both cook and sit down to enjoy a meal as a family.
Since it’s the most important meal of the day, breakfast is a great place to start. By teaching your kids some “must know” recipes, you’re also setting them up for when they leave home and are cooking for themselves. A few solid recipes in their back pocket will serve them well!
Though I don’t believe in limiting “cooking with kids” to baking, there is definitely something to be said for teaching kids how to make healthier homemade versions of store-bought favourites like peanut butter and banana muffins and banana bread. Perhaps they are savoury breakfast fans? How about these bacon, cheese and corn muffins – it’s like a meal in a muffin! No time to sit down and eat? These “on the go” cookies are a great place to start – and easily customizable so you can add whatever dried fruit and nuts you prefer.
For something a little more substantial, you can’t really go wrong with eggs. Teaching a child how to make scrambled eggs, a “no-fail” omelette, or a quiche or a frittata will definitely stand them in good stead later in their lives! All of these recipes work well for a quick dinner too, and use common pantry and fridge ingredients. By teaching the base recipes, you’re opening up a whole world of customization to your child – the flavour possibilities for egg dishes are endless!
Favourite Banana Bread | Creamy No-Fail Omelette
Mini Philly Frittatas
Another “must know” dish for breakfast or brunch is, of course, pancakes. Once kids know how to make a basic pancake mix, you can introduce different versions – and maybe even get some greens in there like with these spinach pancakes. Again, the possibilities for add-ins or toppings are endless and the more you allow a child to choose certain elements of a dish they are cooking, the more likely they are to try something new!
Sure, cooking with kids can be a little messy and perhaps won’t always go the way you think it will, but remember to have fun and relax. Even if you or the kids make a mistake, figuring out how to fix it is all part of the experience!
How do you get kids excited about cooking?
P.S. Enter for a chance to win a free tub of Philly Chocolate by clicking the image below!