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How to cook with kids and not get stressed

How to teach kids to cook and not get stressed

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The idea of cooking with your children and the reality can be two very different things. Learning how to cook with kids and not get stressed adds a new dimension in the kitchen! In your mind you’re wearing cheerful aprons, showing your little one the joys of baking and decorating beautiful little cupcakes together.

When it comes down to it, your toddler wants total control, grabs everything in sight and when you protest she chucks the cake batter all over the floor in a rage. The beautifully decorated cupcakes of your dreams look like they’d be more at home in a toxic waste dump.

After a lot of trial and error of cooking with my two boys, I’ve learnt the hard way it’s about exercising savvy management skills and lowering your expectations down a few notches. So here are my top tips for having a happy time cooking with your kids:

Be Prepared

Get all the equipment and ingredients laid out BEFORE you get the kids in the kitchen. They’ll be chomping at the bit to get cooking, so if you’re good to go as soon as they hit the room things will be off to a good start.

For really little ones, weigh and measure the ingredients into pots in advance. For older children getting to grips with weighing and measuring is perfect for hands-on maths practice. You could also get them to copy out the recipe from the book/computer/tablet in their best handwriting.

Be Safe

how to cook with kids and not get stressedFood hygiene is best taught from a young age. Make sure they wash their hands really well before they do anything. Also keep an eye out for fingers being dipped into ingredients and licked. If they want to try stuff or lick the bowl, get them to use a spoon!

Kitchens are full of hazards, but that doesn’t mean kids should be told not to touch anything. The key is to firmly show what could hurt them and why, and do this before you start cooking.

Knives and scissors are sharp, but I let my boys use them as long as I’m watching closely. I think you need to show children that you trust them while also helping them learn to be more independent.

Peelers, graters and blenders can seriously hurt little hands, so be mindful of them. Hot pans are easily knocked or grabbed, fat can spit, just make sure you keep reminding them of this and watch them like a hawk.

Favourite Recipes

Shaped cookies are a classic for toddlers, as you can make the cookie dough in advance and let the children roll it out, cut shapes, bake and decorate.

One of our favourite baking projects so far has been this easy but effective Pizza Cake we made for a birthday party.

But it doesn’t always have to be baking. Children will also love helping you make a family meal and will be more likely to eat it if they’ve had a hand in putting it together. Why not try our Quick

Roast Potatoes instead of resorting to oven chips one night?


Once you’ve decided which recipe you’re going to make, sit down and break it into different tasks that suit the age and abilities of your child. This also helps if you have more than one child cooking, as you can divvy the tasks up between them so they’ve got their own bits to be getting on with.

Here are some of my boys favourite jobs:

How to teach kids to cook and not get stressedCracking eggs






Washing fruit and veg





Using the blender

Clearing up

For really little ones, hand out cloths and and old kitchen spray filled with water and get them busy ‘cleaning’ the kitchen while you do it in earnest. OIder kids can help load the dishwasher, wash up bigger pans and put ingredients away. They need to realise that things don’t clear themselves up!

Life lessons

Which brings us nicely on to how cooking with your kids gives them valuable life skills. How much better will you feel about them leaving home if you know they’ve got a few meals up their sleeves and are capable of tidying up? Their future partners will certainly thank you for giving them such great training.





About Katie Bryson

About Katie Bryson

Katie is a freelance food writer and feeder of two boys. She writes and develops recipes for her family food blog Feeding Boys and a Firefighter as well as professionally for Parentdish.co.uk, The Working Parent and The Good Food Channel

Website: Katie Bryson

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