Bold enough to start cooking with your children? In this article, we’ll talk you through our favourite kid-friendly cooking ideas, as well as the benefits of involving children in kitchen activities from a young age.
👉🏼 #1 Messy food play
Messy food play introduces different food smells, tastes and textures through structured play. By experiencing foods in a fun way a child might be more willing to try tasting and to eat new foods from just a few months old. 🍓 Getting hands dirty is also a good thing! Children with tactile defensiveness are over-sensitive to touch, so increasing this (carefully and safely) when they’re young is vital.
Here are a few ideas to get you going with very little ones:
🍝 Playing with a bowl of wet noodles/rice/pasta, incorporating small pieces of cooked vegetables and encouraging your child to pick out as many as they can find helps with dexterity.
🤩 Making fruit and vegetable faces on paper plates is fun and encourages creativity.
🍅 Finger painting with different sauces, ice cream, sweet sauces, cheese spread, and mayonnaise on a wipeable mat or mirror (if you’re brave enough!) means they won’t be unnecessarily worried about these textures when they grow up.
🧖♀️ Making cooked rice and pasta sandcastles and decorating them with cooked vegetables, then eating it up to avoid waste gives kids a sense of control.
Some of this might sound silly, but we spoke with a parent who allowed her child some (supervised) freedom in the kitchen when she was a baby:
‘letting her safely feel and play with some of her food (obviously away from sharp things and heat) allowed her to be a little bit independent and unafraid. She’s definitely confident now because of it, and eats everything!’.
Remember to always start this activity by washing and drying your child’s hands. This teaches them about proper hygiene but also makes them receptive to new textures.
👉🏼 #2 Cooking and sharing
A lot of people take great pride and comfort in cooking for others and sharing their food. Seeing someone you love to eat and enjoy something you’ve prepared is a rewarding feeling and unites friends and family. Think: everyone loves a birthday cake. 🍰 Starting your child cooking from a young age encourages them not only to look after and feed themselves but to show them how giving through food can be even more thoughtful than a material gift.
Working together to cook or bake is the best way to learn, listen and share. There are plenty of websites with great food ideas, depending on whether you want to make something for dinner or a sweet treat for pudding. Some of our favourites are:
🍎 A big shared lasagne: this is a great one as it involves lots of stages and can be adapted to your needs (e.g. dairy free or vegetarian). You’ll have to be patient as you wait for each part to finish before the final layering, but then when it’s done it’s something the whole family can dig into (and makes great leftovers).
🍎 Rainbow salad: teaching your children how to select a range of different coloured fruits and vegetables for a salad at the fruit stall or supermarket is perfect for their nutrition. Reminding them that the more colours there are, the better! Salads are also good for helping them get used to crunchier textures, and can even encourage them to make and save meals for different lunches for school.
🍎 Crumpet or tortilla wrap pizzas: everyday pizzas, with a twist! We love these because you don’t even need to make the dough. Choose your crumpet or wrap base and your toppings, and pile it all on. They cook for less time and can be made for lunch or dinner. This one is a great activity when friends are round, too.
👉🏼 #3 Food for sustainability
The kitchen is the perfect place to start introducing ideas about sustainability. 🥦 Chances are they’ll be learning plenty at school or in tutoring already, so they can share what they’ve learnt with you. Start small by talking about what’s in season (print off or buy an easy guide for the kitchen fridge), trying to avoid fruits and veggies imported from far away. Shop together and try out a fun recipe like rainbow fruit skewers with vanilla honey dip for breakfast or a snack. The more local and with the least amount of packaging, the more sustainable 🍋
Putting some of your fears about the mess and getting things wrong is important when you start encouraging messy play or cooking, but once it’s learned, it’s a great skill for the future. Reminding them to tidy up and put things away is just as important, though, but not till after you’ve licked the spoon! 🎂
Want your children to be bold and brave in all aspects of life? Book a free tutoring session with GoStudent today and encourage them to take risks and develop all their skills in and out of the classroom.