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Cooking with kids: A VERY Helpful Guide

With all this staying home, you’ve probably been spending a lot more time in the kitchen and not just because that’s where you happen to stash your alcohol.

If you have kids (my condolences), this might be a full-on time for you at the moment. The cooking, cleaning and shower crying is surely endless.

Kids need to be kept busy and engaged more than ever. There is an activity, which could possibly help with two of the above domestic issues (sorry no ideas on how to solve the crying, I’m a 30-year-old woman, so I’m all ears on that one).

You’ve been doing all the right things, the hardest being staying home for weeks now. But there might be one wrong move you’ve been making – you’ve been cooking for your kids when surely they could be cooking for you!

Picture this, you wake up and have breakfast waiting for you at the table. You sit down and sniff the toast, hmm, seems okay. You look up across the table at your 7 year old, wide-eyed and hopeful that you’ll like what he’s prepared. It’s what you eat every day but maybe just maybe today will be a day you don’t like it, without cause or reason. You take a bite; it’s a good day. Your son sighs with relief. You then say, “Son, what’s for dinner?" That was the first of seven times you will ask that simple question until supper. Do you do it as revenge or do you do it because you genuinely want to know over and over again…maybe it’s both.

Here are a few tips for getting your kids started:

1. Start simple.

Sure you might be craving a Croquembouche but it might be a little too complex for your 5 year-old's motor skills. Baking is a great start; get the kids to help with rolling cookie dough or mixing the ingredients for banana bread.

That goes for savoury too! You might be missing dining out but probably not best to request an authentic Teppanyaki cooking experience. Perhaps teach the kids how to make a simple sandwich, mostly just remember to steer away from open flames and flying raw egg.

Which brings us to our next section of this tip: be safe. Simple also means simply not handing your toddler a knife – you’ve seen Chucky, it doesn’t end well. Get the older kids to do the chopping, teach them how to do it safely and get the little ones to do the sandwich layering. Warning, you will be having some inconsistent sandwiches.

2. Make it fun.

Your family might be used to watching you frantically run around the kitchen, muttering under your breath, “all he had to do was get the mince out to defrost but nooo, can’t remember that, not even when he’s home all day.”

That’s only because you’ve forgotten how you too were once tricked into cooking under the guise ‘its fun!’

But you know deep down it actually can be fun and you need to show your kids that. Games are great. Ask your kid what their favourite TV character might eat, hopefully, it’s not Oscar the Grouch - I think he just eats trash.

Get them to count the seconds you blend the smoothie for. Also, if the quiche takes 20 minutes to cook, they get 20 minutes to clean up…go! Ta-Da! Tricked them again!

3. Cook Together.

I know this step defeats the point of this very silly article but cook with your kids, engage and talk about the process. The truth is, this is going to make the kids want to learn more and learn faster (also the whole be in the room with kids and knives thing – I can’t stress this enough).

Treat the cooking as a science lesson – show them how food changes when it ‘rises’ or how salty and sweet can go together. We are all spending more time cooking at the moment, so why not turn this into an opportunity for some quality family learning time together?

I might be biased because I have a genuine interest in cooking and would spend most nights watching and helping my mum cook dinner. By age 14 I was cooking the family dinners of pasta, curry or stir-fry and I loved it.

Of course, my brothers had no interest, but they are wonderful table setters and dish cleaners…either way Mum eventually got to put her feet up.

For more ideas on Cooking With Kids tune into The Project tonight, 6:30PM.