Cooking with younger children
Even toddlers can help spread margarine on bread and add ready-chopped (by you!) ingredients onto a sandwich or a homemade pizza. But children aged four and above can enjoy more sophisticated tasks like whisking, chopping softer foods that don’t require a very sharp knife, mashing etc. Stirring pans on the hob is not a good idea though, no matter how tempting this task may appear to them.
Let your child help you plan what you are going to make. Take a look at what ingredients you have to hand and talk together about what dish you might be able to create with it, or browse a few cook books to see what tempts you both.
You will find the results are much more likely to be eaten by the time the dish reaches the table. If the dish goes down well, let your child choose a name for your family’s favourite new meal.
Cooking with teenagers
When you feel your child is confident in the kitchen it’s time to hand over the reins every now and then. If they have enjoyed a meal at a friend’s house and mentions it, suggest you either try to recreate it at home together or let your child experiment on their own.
A meal doesn’t have to be particularly complicated, but whether it’s spaghetti vongole or Welsh rarebit, encourage them to do their bit once in a while, not out of duty but because you appreciate what they make.
Make sure the cooking is safe – even adults can get burns or set fire to pans once in a while! But don’t hover over them if they don't need your help, just let them know you’re on hand if they need you.