Friday, March 21, 2014

Cooking with Kids - My Top 5 Tips

The school holidays are here again, and a great way to entertain your kids is to spend some time with them in the kitchen, be it cooking or baking. I am always happy to receive emails from my readers, telling me that I have inspired them through my blog to cook more with their kids, as I do with mine.

Often, they would also ask me for tips on how to make cooking/baking enjoyable with their kids. This is the article that I wrote for Great British Chefs last year that covers this topic, along with some updated content. Also, do check out my collection of kids-friendly recipes that you can try out with your kids. If you have any other questions, please drop me an email or a comment below.


The kitchen is my playground and it is a place where I can be creative and de-stress. Now and then, I will invite my two children into the kitchen for a little bit of fun and education. Cooking is a great bonding activity and kids can gain an incredible amount of knowledge as well as building their self-confidence.

Here are my top five tips on how you can involve your kids in cookery.

1. Choose a child-friendly recipe

Leave the elaborate recipes when you have the kitchen to yourself. When cooking with kids, pick a recipe which is age-appropriate. Children should be able to participate in order to enjoy their time in the kitchen. For younger children, start with recipes which involve easy tasks such as beating the eggs, juicing lemons or mixing the batter.

It would also be beneficial to pick a recipe which makes as little mess as possible, to make it less stressful for yourself.

Both my kids can cook scrambled eggs (with supervision) and they often comment that "it tastes better because they cooked it." And the look of satisfaction on their face is simply priceless :)

2. Planning ahead

Set a date and time, preferably when the kids are feeling fresh. Just before naptime is never a good time, as kids tend to be tired and cranky. Once you have set a date, let the kids know --anticipation helps build up the excitement to the day.

If your first cooking session in the kitchen goes well, you can make this a weekly or fortnightly activity, trying different recipes with increasing levels of difficulty.

3. Be organised

Before the actual day, read the recipe and make sure that you have everything you need, including all the tools and ingredients. If you have time and the recipe is one you are not too familiar with, do a trial run beforehand to make sure the recipe works and that everything will go smoothly on the actual day.

For younger kids, you may want to measure out all the ingredients before you begin, as they have a shorter attention span -- you want to be able to get straight down to business.

It will also be great if you can get kid-sized aprons and kitchen mitts for your kids. My kids love donning theirs whenever I tell them we're having a cooking/baking session. You can get reasonably priced ones from Daiso.

4. Give them guidance

Kids are fast learners, like sponges they absorb information quickly. Show them how to do a certain task, like mashing bananas or folding egg whites into the batter -- you will be surprised how quickly they learn.

In the kitchen, my 2-year old son will now automatically peel the banana and mash it, whenever handed one. He also instinctively knows to tear the basil leaves whenever we make Genovese pesto together, as well as which ingredients gets pounded first in the mortar and pestle.

5. Have fun

Cooking with your kids can be a very fulfilling and fun activity. Kids get a chance to be creative, for example when you make gingerbread cookies together. They can use their imaginations to decorate it however they wish. Make sure you have different cookie cutters to hand, so they can have fun experimenting with different shapes.

During Winter Solstice Festival (an important Chinese celebration) last year, we made tong yuen,a kind of glutinous rice flour Chinese dessert -- the kids had so much fun since it was just like playing PlayDoh, only better, because this was edible.

Your job is to supervise, encourage and get involved. Heap praises on a good job done, in the long run this will also help build your kids confidence.

Remember, even if things go wrong, it's okay. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy your time in the kitchen together.

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  1. And the most important part- patience!

  2. Hi Yen,
    This is such an informative post! And like Ken's comment above, patience is really important, which you obviously have! Kudos to you!

  3. nice tips for parents! it makes me wanna be a kid again and learn how to cook from my older relatives! :)

  4. I wish I have parent like u when i was young...;p

  5. Well Done Yen!
    I have way passed this phrase, Missed those days when they were at these age.

  6. Hmmmm...wish my missus had read this when my girl was small. Over-protective...till today.

  7. Hi Yen, I regret I didn't train my girls when there were kids. My salute to you for being such an excellent mummy and teacher to your children. You have made me realized I should start training my girls in cooking as soon as possible. You know, I always love looking at our children, They are so beautiful and adorable! Warmest regards and cheers :)

  8. Hi Yen,
    Love all your tips! I too love to cook and bake with my kids in the kitchen.
    They are happy, they learn more and they are having fun. I am happy too, to have extra pairs of helping hands:)

  9. your kids are so beautiful!! cute little angels


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