This post is sponsored by Nuffnang.
There’s no doubt that cooking with kids takes more time and organisation than cooking alone but when we consider the benefits to their development and learning, it makes the extra effort feel all the more worthwhile.
10 Reasons to Cook With Kids
Cooking experiences provide a natural way for children to learn new vocabulary – as you talk together about the ingredients you are using, cooking processes and changes observed, they are being introduced to new words and their meanings. Reading the recipe aloud to your child and referring back to it as you cook teaches your child about one of the important purposes of literacy – to provide instruction or information.
2. Food knowledge
Cooking together provides a wonderful opportunity to talk informally with your child about types and origins of food, food production and nutrition. Being involved in food preparation, talking about and handling food can also be wonderful for encouraging a child to be more adventurous when it comes to trying new foods.
3. Brain development
Sensory experiences are wonderful for brain development and cooking with your child engages all of their senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and (most fabulously) tasting!
4. Motor skills
Stirring, whisking, chopping, peeling, beating, kneading, tenderising – all of these cooking processes provide the opportunity to develop physical skills – both fine (fingers, hands and co-ordination) and gross (arm and body) motor skills.
5. Mathematical concepts
Cooking experiences provide a hands-on, contextual way to introduce mathematical concepts to children and being actively involved within a meaningful context is important when it comes to early learning. Especially with abstract concepts such as those related to measurement, number and sequencing.
6. Self esteem
Children feel a real sense of achievement when they have the opportunity to serve food they have helped to prepare to family and friends. Immy recently helped make a birthday cake for my Dad and she was so excited to take it to his house to surprise him.
7. Family traditions
Food plays an important part in a family’s unique culture. For most families, food plays an important role in both every day life and special celebrations, and it is the joy and sense of belonging that stems from the repetition of these traditions that stays with children into adulthood.
8. Developing life skills
I have heard of children as young as seven who regularly cook a simple meal for their family! Cooking is such a useful life skill and involving them in the kitchen regularly from a young age is a big step towards developing future independence.
9. Keeping communication open
Making a regular date to work side by side in the kitchen with your child is one way of maintaining regular time to talk together. This time has the potential to become more and more important as they grow and develop, and as the pressures and influences of schooling, peers and life in general become more prominent in their lives.
10. It’s fun!
Need I say more
As a domestic disaster, even though I know how good cooking is for children and their development, I do struggle with finding recipes to cook with Immy, and especially to cook for our family as a whole. You would probably not be surprised how often we eat spaghetti bolognaise! I often sit down with our menu plan for the fortnight and think ‘what are we going to have this time?’, and thanks to both a lack of time and energy, I regularly fall back on the old familiars. So when I was asked to review the new Coles for Kids recipe section of their website, I was interested to see what ideas were on offer.
The Cooking for Kids area includes sections with recipe ideas for babies, toddlers, school lunches and party foods and offers a great range of recipes that appear simple to prepare, nutritious and child friendly, and we test drove one savoury and one sweet recipe – the Chickpea Patties and Homemade Muesli Bars.
Immy is a patty kind of kid, in fact she is mad for tuna patties so I thought the Chickpea patties were a good one to try (plus I always like to find recipes that include legumes as they are so good for you). These patties are easy to make and it would be easy to substitute the vegetables out for others that your children prefer. If I was to make them again, I would probably use grated carrot instead of peas because I find mashed up green foods to be more than a little off putting to small children. If your children aren’t used to eating chickpeas, it could be a good idea to add seasoning or a little more cheese as chickpeas can be bland – also if I was going to serve them for adults, I would serve with a dipping sauce.
I have tried a few homemade muesli bar recipes in the past without much success. This one is way too more-ish! It is an easy recipe to involve children with, Immy could help with many of the processes, including measuring, stirring, pouring, pressing and spreading. The only thing I would change in the future is to add more chocolate (as shown on the website)!
What are your top 3 foods to cook with kids at home?