Children are never too young to start cooking or preparing food. You can start with small steps like pouring out some cereal or juice, then spreading butter. As they are able you can start with easy things like making a sandwich or muffin pizzas. In this post I will share a few ideas along with some visuals.
Make it fun and hopefully they will enjoy eating it too. We have a kid’s apron and chef’s hat which my eldest loves to put on when he is helping in the kitchen. Personally I find it’s a great activity to do as the kids need your help and creates lots of opportunities for interaction.
Things to cook with kids
There are so many things kids can cook easily but here are some suggestions for you:
- Baking cupcakes is great fun for young children. They can help weigh out the ingredients, sieve the flour, put cupcake cases into the tin and most kids love to mix the ingredients.
- Decorating biscuits or cakes is lots of fun, my boys love shaking sprinkles onto cakes. If you don’t have time to cook and decorate just use ready-made cakes or biscuits. The fun bit is icing them and covering them in sprinkles.
- Rice Crispy or corn flake cakes – these are so easy to do and kids love licking the spoon covered in melted chocolate.
- Muffin Pizza, slice an English muffin in half, the child can spread on some tomato puree and cover with grated cheese or any other toppings. My kids love making these.
- Practice cutting and spreading, this is easily done with toast or sandwiches.
- Jam tarts, I tend to use ready made pastry and the kids can do the rolling out and cutting of the pastry. Then putting the pastry in the tins and filling with jam.
Using visuals in the kitchen
I like to use visual recipes so that my non-verbal autistic son can follow it with me. I also find it helpful to let him look over it for a while before we start as he needs more processing time. Most young children find it easier to follow a visual guide.
Here are two visual guides that you can download and print out to follow with your kids:
You may also want to check out my step by step guide for making pancakes.
Messy play / sensory cooking
My eldest has lots of sensory needs and cooking is a great messy play or sensory activity. Things my son loves include kneading bread, pouring icing, breaking and separating eggs and making pastry. He also really likes to peel mushrooms!
My youngest has a really short attention span and will often only do a short amount of cooking at a time. That’s fine but the best way to get him involved is to use his interests. He loves Room on the Broom at the moment so I can use that when we are mixing a cake as making a spell in the witches cauldron. He is also very into numbers so we made number biscuits.
My kids are particularly fussy eaters but they will still help prepare food in the kitchen they may not then eat. I think that lots of exposure to different food is worth it even if they don’t want to try new things yet.
We have two cookbooks that I think are brilliant for children the Annabel Karmel Children’s First Cookbook and Cooking Step-By-Step. There are links to both below. These books are very visually appealing and full of great recipes. My eldest loves to look through them and we have had success with everything we have tried from both books. I really do recommend them.
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What do you like to cook with the kids? I’d love to hear your suggestion in the comments below and do let me know if you use any of my visual guides.
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You may also find some helpful recipes to try with the kids over on my new blog The Breakfast Page.