Get the kids in the kitchen as young as possible! You will thank me for this snippet of advice in years to come.
Because kids learn a whole host of skills when they are in the kitchen, all of which are useful when as they grow. Even toddlers can have jobs to do in the kitchen and as your child gets more confident, you can step back and give them more freedom.
By the time you have a tween in the house, you will have someone else to take on the meal duties, even if it is just lunch once a week or making breakfast at the weekend! The kids love the independence of cooking a meal and moms love having a break!
The importance of getting kids involved in the kitchen from a young age.
Cooking is an invaluable life skill! It’s something that everyone should be able to do. When you’re encouraged to cook at a young age, you’ll be less reliant on eating out or eating processed foods.
It helps them to learn how to manage their time, and grasp math and science skills such as weighing, temperatures, time, weight, and volume. Also the science of why and how different ingredients react in the ways that they do.
It’s so important to get them involved in the kitchen, so they can learn basic household skills. But how can you do this?
It can be tricky to know where to start, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult. The best way to get kids interested in cooking is to be hands-on and get them involved.
By getting them to help out, you get to see your kids smile and learn something new!
The secret to getting kids into the kitchen: get them to help out!
Start with something easy like washing tomatoes or lettuce. Or helping you measure out ingredients for a cake, as you see their skills develop you can add in the next step. Wonder Mom Guest Expert Jenny Eden Berk talks in more depth about this in her masterclass available in the Wonder Mom portal.
Don’t force your kids to stay for the whole process initially, just let them help and as they get used to being in the kitchen you’ll notice they want to stay longer.
If their interest-only lasts as long as measuring the flour, then that is enough to start with. You can build on that.
When they are ready to do a whole recipe from start to finish, give them something easy and pretty much fail-proof to help build their confidence. The rock cake recipe below is perfect and one that both I and my brothers started off baking with.
It’s also a recipe that you can step back from and just be in the kitchen to act as a sous chef, putting the tray in and out of the oven might be your only task! My son was 7 in these pictures and other than taking the tray out of the oven, he did everything himself.
And you can see how proud he is!
If you are just starting with all this, there are more tips on cooking with kids in the kitchen here.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I will get a percentage of the sale at no cost to you if you choose to buy something.
Get Kids In The Kitchen With Easy Rock Cakes
Cooking time 10-15 minutes
Temp 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark 6
- 200g plain flour
- 1tsp baking powder (or 200g SR flour and no baking powder)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 75g butter
- 75g caster sugar
- 75g mixed dried fruit
- 1 egg – beaten
- 2 tbsp milk
- Brown sugar for sprinkling
Tie long hair back, wash your hands, and put on an apron.
Ask an adult to turn on the oven for you.
Take out all the equipment you will need:
- Big mixing bowl
- Mixing spoon
- Oven tray
- Greaseproof paper or nonstick silicone mat
- Measuring spoons
- Kitchen scales
- Measuring bowl
Method To Make Rock Cakes:
Sieve together the flour, baking powder, salt, and mixed spice.
Add the butter. Rub the butter and flour together using your fingertips, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar and mixed fruit and mix together
In a separate small bowl, beat together the egg and milk.
Add to the rest of the ingredients
Mix well until all the ingredients are combined.
Side note – if you are short on storage space, the Joesph Joseph nesting bowls are brilliant, it was a splurge buy when I bought them but I LOVE them and it was one investment that I have never regretted.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper (we used a silicone tray) and make 12, equally spaced dollops. Try to make them the same size so that they cook evenly.
Sprinkle sugar over each of the dollops, it doesn’t matter if they are funny shapes, they will look more like rocks if they are.
Lick fingers, then wash your hands again!
When the oven is heated to the correct temperature, put the rock cake on the middle shelf, you might need an adult to help you do this.
Set the timer for 10 minutes, and ask an adult to help check them after 10 minutes, they should be golden brown, you might need to turn the tray around and put them back in the oven for a few more minutes.
Now the challenge begins, can you wash up the dirty dishes before the cakes are cooked?
Ask an adult to help take the cakes from the oven when they are a nice golden brown colour and put them on a wire rack to cool.
Whilst they are cooling down a bit, wipe the counter and put everything you have used away, the quicker you do it, the quicker you get to eat cake!
When the rock cakes are cool enough to handle, put them on a plate.
When you have finished cleaning up, you should check to see if your cakes are perfect! Grab a rock cake and find a nice spot to enjoy eating it.
Finals Words On Having Kids In The Kitchen
Safety first! never leave a child unattended in the kitchen, even for a minute. If you need to leave, so do they.
Always make sure that the equipment is a suitable size for a child. Accidents are far more likely to happen if a piece of equipment is too big for their little hands.
And if a plate, glass, or similar gets broken, teach them what to do. NOT to try and clean up.
Instead, stand perfectly still and call for help.
Explain that when something like this gets broken, it’s the tiny slivers that are difficult to see that can cause the biggest injury. So stay still and wait for an adult to help.
Coming from a Montessori angle of having kids in the kitchen, it is the perfect time to explain the work cycle and why it’s part of everyday life (you can read more about the work cycle here)
If you are looking for some great cookbooks for kids, we really liked Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up and for older kids Honest Pretzels both by Mollie Katzen. There are notes for the adults and then the recipes use simple English and illustrations so that it’s easy for even toddlers to follow along.
The recipes are healthy and vegetarian based so it’s a really good way to get kids who are not so keen on their veggies to get involved and help with preparing meals.
If you are looking for a more Montessori based book then Kids in the Kitchen: Simple Recipes That Build Independence and Confidence the Montessori Way Is also a great book.