Get the kids cooking

Whether you want to get them to try new foods or create a foundation for a healthy life of cooking, making the kitchen more fun for kids is rewarding for you and them.

There are few life skills more important for kids to learn than cooking – but it doesn’t need to feel like a lesson. Getting them familiar with the kitchen and excited about making dinner can be so much easier with a few tricks to keep them entertained. And on a cold, rainy day, it’s a brilliant way to keep them occupied too!

Whatever you make, the secret is to keep the dishes flexible so kids can pick and choose ingredients they love whilst discovering new healthy recipes. Try these five ideas to get them involved in cooking their dinner.

1. Colour me yummy

Get your child to decide on a colour, then together dream up a meal using foods that are only green, or red or even white. Use a dash of food colouring to create gooey looking blue spaghetti, or try red colouring in pastry for a homemade pie.

2. Make a picnic at home

For small children, simply changing the scenery can be a lovely treat, especially if they need cheering up. Create teatime foods you can pack in a picnic basket, get the kids to lay out a big blanket (one that will catch any mess) and forget about polite eating at a table for once. Try our Easy picnic feasts on a budget for recipe ideas.

3. DIY a diner with a burger recipe

Homemade burgers are really easy to prepare (just mix up a packet of fresh mince so the fat is well distributed, get the kids to season and shape their own patties, then a grown-up can grill or lightly fry them). Package the meal with coloured paper and plastic cups for a funky takeaway effect.

4. Cooking spells pizza

Get the kids weighing and stirring: 300g strong bread flour, 1 tsp instant yeast, 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp olive oil mixed with 200ml warm water. Knead the sticky dough then roll this out and spell their names with letter shapes. Let these sit under a clean tea towel for a few minutes while you prepare toppings – chopped tomatoes, grated cheese, cubed ham, etc. Bake at 220°C (gas mark 8) for 8-10 minutes.

5. Anything goes soup

Let your child choose what they fancy from the fridge – soup can be made from most things. (Even meats like skinned, boneless chicken or small cuts of lamb can be panfried before adding to the other ingredients). Popular choices include butternut squash soup and mushroom soup. Just chop everything, slow-cook it with stock for 30-40 minutes, then blend it up and serve.

TIP: Washing up might seem like the worst chore, but kids love playing with mountains of bubbles, so pour in the gentle Fairy Liquid and let them get messy with the suds!

Do your kids enjoy messing around in the kitchen? Let us know your tricks for getting them involved.