23 July 2018

Can't Cook, Won't Cook: Mistakes You Don't Want To Make When Cooking With Children

Any parent should know that cooking with kids is essential. Think back to your childhood. Weren’t baking days the best? There’s just something about the fast-fire creation of food which appeals to kids. They don’t have to wait for hours to see their painting dry, or undergo grueling creative work before they see a result. Instead, they can mix all the ingredients and see a final product in usually less than an hour. What kid wouldn’t like that?

Very few. Hence why you should hit the kitchen often with your children if you don’t already. What’s more, you should do this from a very young age. Though you won’t be able to trust them with a whisk, even toddlers can get involved. Just helping to hold the spoon or sort the decoration could feel like a whole load of fun to them. So much so that it’s worth embarking on this activity at least once a week.

Of course, as with anything, there are right and wrong ways to cook with your children. To make sure you get this right, we’re going to look at a few of the wrong ways to go about this, and the ways you can avoid them.

You’re missing out on the learning opportunities

We know what you’re thinking; how much learning can there be in cooking? Sure, your kids might gain some basic food prep knowledge, but that’s about it. Isn’t it? Most definitely not! In fact, as can be seen from sites like www.zak.com, there are a load of learning benefits to cooking with your kids. At least, there are if you make the most of them. In truth, cooking can be a lesson in everything from sharing to basic division. And, most importantly in the modern age, cooking can help your kids understand the nutritious content of their food. The trouble is that, if you approach this as a ‘bit of fun’, you’ll miss out on those learning opportunities. Instead, make sure to turn this into the lesson it could be. Let your kids cook together, and show the importance of sharing responsibility. Teach them about halving recipes, and how to work out which ingredients they’d then need. You could also take the time to speak about general nutrition. Talk about the benefits and harm of certain ingredients as they go into the recipe. Make sure you kids know what each food type does and doesn’t do for them. Before long, your little ones will know a whole load more than just how to cook a new recipe! What’s more, you’ll likely find that they’re receptive to these lessons because you wrap them up in a fun activity.

You only ever make sweet snacks

Many parents also only make sweet, unhealthy bakes with their kids. Whether it’s basic cupcakes, or a quick batch of cookies, most of us turn to sweet treats when our children hit the kitchen. But, this is terrible news for obvious reasons, especially when about one in every three American children is obese. And, of course, we’re not saying you can never bake cakes with your little ones. This is an easy recipe for kids to grasp, and there’s nothing wrong with a treat on occasion. But, if you’re cooking with your kids as often as you should, it would be a bad idea to make sweet treats each time. Instead, don’t be afraid to branch out into more healthy savoury options. They may seem daunting with young chefs in the kitchen, but as can be seen from sites like www.kitchenstewardship.com, there are plenty of easy options, including rice dishes and options like mac ‘n’ cheese. Even if you do like the sweet stuff, stick to healthier alternatives. Choose muffins over cupcakes, and granola bars over chocolate brownies. This will help with those nutrition lessons we mentioned above. It'll also ensure your kids develop healthy cooking habits from the very start. And, did we mention this will help your waistline too?

Your kitchen isn’t suited to the cause

Another mistake is not to suit your kitchen to this cause. Too often, this will result in a reluctance to cook at all. Even if you do get around to it, an ill-suited kitchen could lead to a frustrating experience all around. To make sure it doesn’t happen, consider how you could suit your kitchen to your children’s needs. For one, you need to make sure your kids can actually reach the countertop on which they’re cooking. If they have to stand on stools, you’ll make life more difficult while also creating a hazard. Instead, consider investing in a small work surface for younger children. Something as simple as a plastic table should do the trick here. Then, you can make sure they everything they need within easy-reaching height. If your children are older and able to reach your kitchen counters, think about the counters themselves. When it comes to cleaning, wooden counters could be a challenge for youngsters. And, you don’t need us to tell you that improper cleaning can lead to bacteria. By comparison, something like the granite worktops found on https://worldstonegroup.com would be a much easier wipe-down option. Think, too, about your kitchen appliances. If you have sharp knives on display, consider putting them up high and out of sight so that you don’t have to worry. Consider, too, replacing things like your whisk with kid-friendly options which leave less chance of an accident. With all these measures in place, cooking with kids will be a much more straightforward process, and a safer one, as well.

You don’t give any real responsibility

Another mistake would be not giving your kids enough responsibility when they’re cooking. As well as undoing any learning potential, this could lead to frustration and boredom. Admittedly, when your kids are younger, you may want to remove specific responsibilities. For instance, you may find it easier to measure ingredients beforehand. You’ll also need to double check mixtures are whisked enough and so on. But, it’s crucial you give back responsibilities like these as your kids get older. After all, they can’t learn about maths benefits if you do the weighing for them. You’ll also find that older children will be less willing to get stuck in if they don’t feel challenged. So, with each year that passes, add these new responsibilities to the cooking process. While you may still want to oversee things, your role should become increasingly back-seat as your kids learn. Be there to give them advice, but otherwise let them experiment. Over time, you could even let them choose to add or remove ingredients as they see fit. There may be some disasters along the way, but you know what they say; you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. And, you can’t make a capable cook without letting them follow their own path.

You rush the process

You’re a busy parent. You’re balancing work, kids, and life. So, yeah; you rush things sometimes. And, cooking is often one of them. Are we right? Of course, we’re right. But, rushing the cooking process is yet another mistake. For one, rushing can lead to errors which will knock your children’s confidence and waste ingredients. For another, rushing undoes any benefits of cooking sessions. Kids may love cooking because it provides fast results, but rushing is still a mistake. So, only ever hit the kitchen when you have plenty of time to dedicate to the cause. Make this a priority and plan it into your schedule. Then, sit back and let your kids take their time. As well as giving them more appreciation for cooking, this can help them learn those lessons we spoke about. If you’re rushing, you’re less likely to take time teaching about food nutrition and are more likely to take over when things aren’t moving fast. Instead of making cooking fun, this will create a tense atmosphere which no one enjoys. So, slow down and let the process unwind in its own time.

A final word

So, those are the things you shouldn’t do. But, whatever you do, don’t let this list put you off entering the kitchen with kids in tow. To ensure we end on a positive, let’s round up some of the things you SHOULD do for a productive cooking time -

  • Schedule plenty of time to cook
  • Look for healthy recipes which are easy to make
  • Ensure your kitchen is fit for purpose
  • Suit responsibility level’s to your child’s age
  • Take the chance to teach all lessons possible
  • Research nutritious content of ingredients before starting
  • Remember to have fun, and make sure your kids have fun, too!
You see; it really isn’t so hard to get this right. And, if you keep this article in mind, your kids could well become the next Rachael Ray or Gordon Ramsey. Even if not, they’ll at least know how cook themselves a healthy meal and work as a team. Which is nearly as good, isn’t it?


  1. Never underestimate kids or talk down to them sound advice from Mr.Rogers

  2. Lots of good reasons but one of the very best is it is teaching a life skill they will appreciate and use. Many young adults have no CLUE how to cook even the basics and it is a shame.

  3. Banana Bread is a great choice & you may use oat flour or rice flour for gluten free options...

  4. When I was about Jr. High age my mama taught me a lot in the kitchen and I wanted to learn. Then with high school and sports, studying for straight A's that I had to have, a social life, cooking lost its interest to me. But when I married I did start cooking again. I had forgotten a lot I learned from Jr high age but I cooked. When my children were born and were 5 or 6ish they wanted to help when I was cooking them a grilled cheese or Mac n cheese so they would get their sturdy maybe a four off the ground stool and pull it by the stove to help. They did good but I never left their side.
    I do remember one time my youngest was on the stool helping cook and my oldest, 3 years older than her sister, was at the counter talking to me about some problem and my youngest turned around on her stool and lectured my oldest as she shook the utensil at my oldest. My oldest simply said I am not going to listen to someone not even tall enough to reach the stove so you can shake your utensil at someone else. I wanted to fall out laughing but it would not have been a good situation if I had. So yea we cooked and it was always an experience.

  5. Yes the more you cook with kids the easier it will be next time..

  6. Make recipes & hide vegetables within those recipes to get everyone to eat healthier...

  7. Kids in the kitchen is great. It teaches life skills and also builds confidence. I do agree you do have to spend a bit more time, but if you consider it time well spent, it isn't a chore. Oh, and have the KIDS help wih the mess. Clean up is important too.

  8. Homemade pudding is a great recipe plus you can make a pie out of it.. too

  9. Don't miss out on connecting with your kids...

  10. I know you do not want to make kids wait however they need to learn patience ...


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