“Why on earth would you cook with the kids?” We hear you ask. It’s messy and chaotic – isn’t it easier to cook something for them yourself?
Cooking is a brilliant life skill, and through shared learning and experiences, a great way to bond with the small people in your life. What’s more, it’s also great for helping to boost a child’s executive functions, i.e., the ability to focus, plan, switch between tasks, remember instructions and control their behaviour.
And it’s also a lot of fun.
We explore some of the benefits of cooking with kids and offer helpful tips for cooking with your smalls.
Encourages healthy eating habits
Research shows that kids who cook are more likely to try new foods and have healthier eating habits. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that those who cook at home consume more fruits and vegetables and better understand nutrition than those who don’t. Meanwhile, a 2022 survey by Imperial College London found that one in five children consumes 78% of their calories from ultra-processed foods, an increasing trend.
By cooking with children, they can see where their food comes from, learn about different ingredients and smells and also learn to appreciate healthy food choices, which should then, in turn, follow them into adulthood.
Builds confidence and self-esteem
When kids are involved in cooking, they feel a sense of accomplishment and ownership, leading to increased self-esteem, confidence and pride in their abilities.
A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that kids who cook at home have a greater sense of self-efficacy when making healthy food choices. By allowing our kids to cook with us, we can help them build their confidence and develop essential life skills.
Teaches life skills
From measuring ingredients to following recipes, cooking requires various skills that can be applied to other areas of life. When kids learn to cook, they also learn about food safety, hygiene, and kitchen organisation.
These skills are essential for their overall well-being and can help them become more independent and self-sufficient.
Fosters family bonding
When we cook together, we can share stories, laugh, and create memories that will last a lifetime. According to a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, families who cook and eat together have stronger family relationships and better communication. Cooking with our kids can help us build stronger family bonds and create a sense of togetherness.
From baking biscuits without a recipe to adding different spices to a cottage pie, cooking is an art form that allows for creativity and experimentation. When kids cook, they can express themselves and try new things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but trial and error is a brilliant way to problem solve and learn.
Tips for cooking with kids
- Time. Make sure you have time to engage with the process and relax.
- Mess. Expect a lot of mess! You could use a tray and a plastic tablecloth to minimise the cleaning up and get the child to wear an apron or an old shirt.
- Planning. You should check that you have all of the ingredients. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a recipe only to be disappointed that you can’t finish the dish or have to nip out to the shops halfway through.
- Safety. Make sure that what you’re cooking is age appropriate or supervised.
- Get stuck in. Touch, taste and smell the ingredients. This is a great way to understand what is ok to eat raw and cooked.
- Enjoy. Enjoy the time discovering, tasting and eating together.
- Saving time. Cooking together is fantastic, but some days you want the convenience of home-cooked, nutritious food that’s super quick.
Our kids’ range of meals is specially designed and packed full of vegetables, proteins, and natural ingredients. So whether it’s spaghetti bolognese, Penne pasta in tomato sauce, fish pie, cottage pie, curry or vegetable lasagne that your kids are craving, you’re guaranteed a meal that is frozen at the point of freshness and delivered to you.