What’s cooking?

Small children are often keen to do what you are doing. Involve them in the preparation of their food, make it enjoyable and apart from having a wonderful sense of achievement, they’ll begin to accept responsibility for their own eating habits and if you are lucky enough will even try foods they have previously rejected.

Cooking activities are the perfect combination of fun and creativity and are a great way to teach children about the food they eat and introduce them to new foods from around the world. Children will eagerly tuck into something they have prepared themselves and take great pride in watching someone else enjoy their food.
First think what they can and can’t do at their age. Here is a quick guide:

  • 2 years – Scrubbing, tearing, dipping
  • 3 years – Pouring, mixing, spreading, shaking
  • 4 years – Wiping, washing, peeling, cutting, rolling, mashing, grating

Cooking is a bit like reading and if you learn the basics first, the rest should fall into place. These are some of the most frequently used techniques, the best ones to aim to teach your child:

  1. Peeling vegetables with a vegetable peeler.
  2. Chopping onions leaving the root intact so that it doesn’t fall apart.
  3. Mashing potatoes with a potato masher.
  4. Grating cheese.
  5. Squeezing citrus fruit.
  6. Cracking eggs by tapping the centre of the shell over the rim of a small bowl.
  7. Using a sieve.
  8. Whisking egg whites.
  9. Rubbing in butter and flour for crumble.
  10. Kneading dough.
  11. Rolling out dough using a floured rolling pin and cutting out shapes using cookie cutters.
  12. Greasing and lining cake tins.
  13. How to tell if a cake is cooked by seeing if a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Helping my mother cook is one of my early happy memories. Only as an adult I understood how exceedingly patient she was! Don’t rush it, don’t worry too much about the mess and most of all have fun!

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