Teaching your children to cook will provide them invaluable skills for the future and allow them to learn about the importance of healthy balanced meals. Today on the blog, Jane Rylands, from family kitchen appliance providers Belling, shares her insight into why we should be getting our kids into cooking, as well as some of the best ways to go about it.
Plus, we have teamed up with Belling for an exciting competition - read to the end of the post to find out more!
The health and happiness of our children is the most important thing in the world. But, how can we be sure we're doing everything we can to give them the best start in life?
On 15 July, it's World Youth Skills Day, which aims to draw attention to the importance of giving young people the skills they need to do well later in their lives. Teaching your children to make healthy lifestyle choices when they're young gives them the best start, and they'll be far more likely to continue to be healthy and responsible once they’re grown up.
One of the best things you can do for your kids is to teach them how to cook for themselves. Learning to cook is is a great way for them to gain their independence, as well as raise their confidence. Following recipes and measuring ingredients can even help with their reading comprehension and mathematical skills!
So, below are just some of the ways you can encourage your kids to get into cooking which will make them happy both inside and out!
Ask them to help at tea-time
We know that preparing family dinners can be chaotic and, a lot of the time, it's easier to just do it yourself. But giving your kids something to do in the kitchen can help them to understand what goes into their meals and how the process works. Not only will they pick up your cooking methods, but they'll learn valuable lessons in teamwork and responsibility as well.
Some safe jobs for all ages include: measuring out or mixing things, buttering bread, and arranging cold food on plates. Try to mix things up a bit and plan meals from lots of different cultures too; that way, they'll handle different ingredients all the time. Older kids can even help chop vegetables or stir saucepans that are on the hob if they're responsible enough — but they should never do so unsupervised.
Ask them to create their own recipes
If your children aren't very interested in cooking, you could capture their imaginations by asking them to design a dish. They can choose their own ingredients and draw how they'd present their meal, then help out in the kitchen to make it. What they decide to cook doesn't necessarily have to be healthy, as long as it gets your kids excited and thinking about food combinations.
Or, give your little ones more choice when it comes to fillings and toppings so they can experiment with flavour. Instead of making them a sandwich, for example, give them the bread and a range of meats, cheeses, and vegetables to include in it. Let them try unusual combos no matter how unappealing they may be — they'll learn a lot more about flavour profiles that way.
Keep it safe
As well as cooking methods and techniques, it's vital that your children learn the importance of food hygiene and safety. As parents, you should never leave your child unattended in the kitchen where there's lots of hot things and sharp knives, even for a moment. Keep your kids out of the way when you're handling hot food or opening the oven, and make sure all pan handles are facing away from you so they can't be grabbed and spilled by little hands.
You should also teach them the importance of:
- Wearing an apron
- Washing their hands and wiping down surfaces
- Checking recipes and equipment
- Washing ingredients before using them
- Washing their hands and utensils after handling raw animal products
- Tidying as they go
At first, it might be best for your children to observe you until you think they're ready to do basic food prep. Talk them through everything that you're doing so they can start to understand what cooking entails, and involve them in the decision-making process by asking them questions like which vegetables they'd like with their dinner. This gets them thinking about food rather than just eating it, which can also help if your children are particularly picky or fussy eaters.
The tips in this guide can help you get your kids interested in cooking, no matter what age they may be. Cooking is a great way for them to learn key skills, raise their confidence, and become independent. It can also help them think about other cultures and their health, so it's best to get them helping in the kitchen as early as possible.
Win a 'Cooking with Billy the Bear' Charity Cookbook from Belling
We've teamed up with family kitchen appliance providers Belling to give five lucky readers a copy of their Billy the Bear Charity Cookbook.
The cookbook has been created in partnership with HENRY, a children's health charity that aims to give babies and young children the best possible start in life. They do this by encouraging families to develop good habits and make positive lifestyle changes, focusing on health, wellbeing, and learning valuable skills. The efforts of HENRY are helping families to create happier home environments and build healthier communities across the UK.
Starring Belling's adorable mascot, Billy the Bear, the cookbook includes 10 tasty dishes that have been submitted by real families. Each recipe is easy for kids of all ages to follow as well as super nutritious, so they are perfect for getting your kids into cooking. Our favourites include the Butternut Squash Boats that are packed with cheese, bacon (or tofu), and lots of mixed veggies.
Plus, the book offers some lifestyle advice for avoiding waste and eating healthily, so your kids can learn to be responsible little chefs.
To enter, simply comment the answer to this question below:
What is the name of Belling's teddy bear mascot?
Remember to read our competition terms and conditions before entering.