Cooking at Home with Children: Some DOs and DON’Ts

Cooking with ChildrenCooking with your kids is a great way to spend time together – it’s fun, it teaches children significant life skills, and you get a tasty meal at the end. Children are more likely to eat and test new food if they have cooked it themselves.

However, if you haven’t cooked with your kids before, there can be some special challenges. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

DO

  • Set ground rules with children before you start – such as good listening and taking turns.  You can also ask questions such as, What do you think might be dangerous about doing this?  How can we make it safer?  This way everyone is aware of any safety measures necessary.
  • Allow plenty of time – as a rule of thumb it can take up to three times as long cooking with children depending on how many children are involved and how much supervision they need.
  • Expect to trash the kitchen – just be clear with the kids beforehand that you all need to work together afterwards to clean everything up.
  • Work out in advance how you are going to organize things if you are cooking with more than one child – are they going to take turns or have different jobs?  A little bit of planning can save a lot of arguing.
  • Think about what each child will be able to do in terms of the different cooking tasks.  To begin with, you may need to work this out by trial and error (and close supervision).
  • Sit down and eat the meal together and talk about what you would do differently next time.

DON’T

  • Cook your first meal with the family when everyone is already hungry and desperate for food.  It’s always a good idea to give yourself plenty of time.
  • Be surprised if things go wrong.  Even if things don’t go according to plan, you will still probably end up with something pretty tasty.  And you will have learned a lesson for next time.
  • Cook anything too difficult to begin with. It’s much better to start with something simple that everyone enjoys, rather than attempting a three course meal and having everyone in tears.  If in doubt, you might want to try cooking the recipe yourself first before trying it with the kids.

So remember, aim to have fun and accept that it will take longer to cook with your children than on your own.  If you stick with it you can end up with them cooking for you!

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