Food writer reveals how to get children to cook in the kitchen

How teaching children to cook can get them healthy for life: Food writer reveals the easiest ways to get kids to help in the kitchen from letting them make mistakes to throwing a baking party

  • Amanda Grant shared ways to keep children occupied and helpful in the kitchen
  • Mother-of-three and food author said children should be able to make mistakes
  • Here, Amanda shares her top tips with FEMAIL, from keeping recipes simple to throwing a baking party… 

Many parents will find having little ones around when cooking dinner a struggle, but now a cookbook author has revealed the easiest ways to get children involved in cooking at home – from giving them autonomy to teaching them their family history through food.  

Food writer and mother-of-three Amanda Grant, from London,  who is the co-founder of Cook School, a company which helps children to understand food through cookery lessons, meal kits, and recipes, spoke exclusively to Femail about the best ways to help children in the kitchen.  

‘Teaching your children kitchen skills can have the effect of reducing the likelihood of obesity in later life – when children aged 5 to 12 are taught how to cook, it’s been shown to positively improve their diet,’ Amanda told FEMAIL.

Food writer and mother-of-three Amanda Grant, from London, who is the co-founder of Cook School, a company which helps children to understand food through cookery lessons, meal kits, and recipes, spoke exclusively to Femail about the best ways to help children in the kitchen.

‘Encouraging children to eat plenty of fruit and veg is a crucial part of this, and cooking with them is a great way to do that.

‘Veg-based dishes are often very versatile, meaning you can easily swap ingredients, or bulk them up by adding extra – so don’t be afraid to experiment and let your children choose which of their favourite veggies to use.’   

Amanda, who was taught to cook by her mum when she was young, has written several books including; Kitchen, The Silver Spoon for Children — a children’s version of the best-selling Italian cookbook — and Healthy Lunchboxes for Kids.

Here, Amanda shares her top tips with FEMAIL, from keeping recipes simple to throwing a baking party… 

Move cooking out of the kitchen

If you’ve got young children, move to a table for cookery time. 

If you have a craft table that’s set at a child-friendly height and primed for messy play, there’s no reason not to bring your ingredients and equipment out of the kitchen so they can really get stuck in.

Follow a simple recipe

Teaching children how to follow recipes is a skill that will stand them in good stead as they get older. 

Cook School’s recipe cards are written in simple language, easy to follow, and offer basic cooking tips so children can learn at the same time as having fun. 

Before you start, help them to read the recipe through, find all your ingredients and utensils, and set them out on your table. 

Setting everything up in advance can help things run much more smoothly.

Don’t micro-manage

Giving children the autonomy to experiment and trusting them to try things like weighing and measuring themselves will give them confidence in the kitchen, and the chance to learn from their mistakes (it’s how every cook learns that baking is more of a science than an art). 

It’s also a great opportunity to sneak in a maths lesson without them even noticing!

Amanda, who was taught to cook by her mum when she was young, has written several books including; Kitchen, The Silver Spoon for Children — a children’s version of the best-selling Italian cookbook — and Healthy Lunchboxes for Kids. Stock iamge

Put your children to work

Children have an uncanny knack of getting under your feet at the precise moment you’re trying to get dinner onto the table, making it a great time to teach them some cooking skills and get a hand in the kitchen at the same time. 

Kids are more likely to eat dishes they’ve helped to prepare (even veggies), so depending on their age, set them to work on simple tasks such as picking herbs, juicing fruit, cracking eggs, or scrubbing, peeling and mashing veg.

Feed their curiosity

Cooking is full of teachable moments, and with foreign travel a bit tricky this year, the summer holidays offer a great opportunity to help your child explore the world via their plate. 

Choose a different global cuisine to enjoy together each week, and use the opportunity to discuss different cultures. 

You could also share recipes passed to you from relatives, and use them to start conversations about your child’s family history.

Getting kids to experiment with vegetables is key, Amanda says (stock image)

Throw a baking party

If you’re hosting a child’s party, baking together is a great way of keeping them entertained. Things will get messy, but it’s rare to find a boy or girl who won’t love getting stuck in. 

It will help to have more than one adult on board, so one of you can help small hands with chopping, grating and mixing, while the other is in charge of the actual cooking. 

If the children are very young, setting up an ice-cream station with a range of healthy toppings they can choose from is a good alternative activity.

Let them feel part of the action

You’re holding a barbecue or throwing a party, and trying to prepare a feast – but there are small people in the house who need your attention too. 

Rather than distract them with an iPad, let them join in and help you with the prep – assembling sandwiches or mixing soft drinks, or helping to make flatbread pizzas, rainbow veggie skewers, or a pasta salad.

Keep it fun

We believe at Cook School that the most important rule of cooking with kids is to keep it fun. 

If they learn to enjoy cooking, it could give them a whole new hobby, and help them eat more healthily in later life. 

So be ready to pile on the praise, and let the children explore at their own pace.

Use up leftovers

Bread is a family staple but everyday we waste over one million loaves of bread in the UK. 

The good news is there are lots of family friendly things you we can do with stale bread, get the children to help make quick and easy French Toast for breakfast (which can also be cut into French Toast Sticks for transportable snacks!), or a simple bread and butter pudding made using the genius trick of a melted tub of ice cream in the place of making a custard.

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