I wholeheartedly believe that cooking is up there as one of the most valuable skills you can teach a child, right alongside reading and writing.
It’s incredibly important to get your kids excited about food, where it comes from and how to cook it, from as early an age as possible – a kitchen-savvy kid is going to be a much healthier, happier one in the long run. Here are some great tips to keep in mind:
START THEM YOUNG
Investing the time when they’re young and impressionable is absolutely key. Expose them to the widest variety of nutritious foods you can – the more experience and food knowledge they can gather, the more confident they’ll become, meaning they’ll be curious and try new things.
START SMALL & BUILD UP
It’s always good to start small, with jobs such as picking herbs, spinning salad leaves dry, mixing and measuring, and giving kids decisions to make to empower them. You can then progress to elements of a recipe, then go on to slightly trickier techniques over time. The more they cook, the better they’ll get – my older girls are quite happy to have a go at whole recipes these days, whereas the younger two are excited to help out with random bits and pieces. It’s just important to spark that hunger to want to be involved.
MAKE THE TIME
We’re all slaves to a busy lifestyle, so make sure you put time aside to cook together – keep simple jobs for weekdays, then spend a bit more time at the weekend cooking something more involved. Batch cooking is a great option, as the kids will love the fact that they’ve contributed towards meals on other days (this is especially good if you’ve got any fussy eaters on your hands). Getting them to help you whiz up smoothies, or batches of porridge mix for their breakfasts, is also a quick and effective way to involve them in simple tasks.
HAVE A HANDS-ON ATTITUDE
Get your kids to taste, touch and smell the ingredients that you’re cooking with – the more knowledge you can share with them, the better. Explain that it’s OK not to like everything, but that it’s always good to give it a try, and definitely lead by example – if you’re doing something, the chances are they’ll want to give it a go, too.