How to Cook With Kids Without Stress
Kids are such a joyful part of life. They absolutely love watching, learning and creating in the kitchen. As most of you know, I am all about creating joy in the kitchen.
Cooking with kids always looks so gorgeous and enticing in photos, but in reality, it can sometimes (most times) end up being stressful for both you and your kids- so I have a few disclaimers. By no means am I advertising how easy and cute it is to cook with kids.
I keep in mind that cooking with kids is not just a game – we are teaching them a skill that will be essential to them throughout their lives. The cooking process includes planning, shopping, unpacking, storing, preparing, serving and washing up – so we are covering a lot of ground when we start to introduce even the basics!
Have multiple children in the kitchen at once, trying to “help” can be difficult. Messes are created faster than the steps in the recipe are completed. To minimise your stress in the kitchen, I have come up with a few tips. These will preserve your sanity and ensure that the experience is memorable, not stressful, for all. These tips have been designed to keep your time in the kitchen together short and sweet.
Tips for stress-less cooking with kids:
Pick a recipe in advance: This way, everyone is on the same page. Once you are ready to go in the kitchen there are no initial disagreements. If you are new to cooking with kids- I would recommend that you choose simple recipes for two reasons: they are easier for the kids to follow, and it avoids disappointment in the case more complicated recipes don’t turn out as expected (which can happen with or without kids!).
Prepare the materials, ingredients and tools that you need in advance: Kids have fairly short attention spans. The more you can minimise waiting time, the better. Leave everything you need out on the bench, ready to go.
If possible, measure out some of the more tricky ingredients before you get them involved: This takes tip 2 up a level- ensure that everything on the bench is already measured out. With younger kids, this is very helpful. It cuts out extra waiting time and they can skip ahead to the best jobs of all – pouring and stirring. Of course, with older children, you may want to give them the job of measuring out ingredients to keep them engaged and occupied.
Designate jobs and stations to give everyone their space and keep the peace: This will prevent arguments about who is doing which job and will prevent hogging of the ‘best’ jobs (we all know that everyone wants to stir, or be in charge of the chocolate chips!). It shows kids the importance of following steps in the right order and working alongside someone else as a team.
Choose a spoon: If you are baking baking, a really nice idea is to let each child choose a little spoon beforehand so they can scoop out the remnants of the mixing bowl together at the end. Here is your photo moment.. licking the bowl is a step itself! It’s a great little ritual at the end of a baking session. Kids absolutely love it. If there have been any disagreements this is great time for your kids to reconnect.
Pick a time when you are not in a hurry: I cannot stress this enough. Cooking by yourself under a time constraint is stressful enough, let alone adding kids to the mix. Creating joy in the kitchen should ideally be done when you have plenty of time – time to clean up messes, time to allow the kids to ask questions, time to check out all the ingredients and time just to allow for a relaxed mindset.
Make it fun and lighthearted: Whilst we all need to eat, and arguably, need to cook, it would be wonderful for our kids to have their first experiences in the kitchen in a relaxed, fun environment. They will come back to these first experiences again and again. By creating warm and enjoyable opportunities, we hope that the kids have positive associations with cooking and continue to incorporate it into their lifestyles as they grow.
Do you have any tried and tested tips that you’d like to share with me and our community about how to make cooking with kids easier and more fun for all?