Some of my fondest memories are of being in the kitchen as a child helping my mum bake and getting to lick a spoon clean so it was a given that I would be bringing my daughter into the kitchen as soon as I could.
The first time I regretted it almost immediately – flour went everywhere, she tried to put her fingers in the stand mixer while it was on and somehow managed to zero the scales when it was half full of sugar… to be fair she was only one year old! Since that first kitchen adventure I have grown to love having a toddler as my sous chef and despite the mess it has always a fun activity and we’re creating a habit that will hopefully last a lifetime.
Today is national Kids Take Over The Kitchen Day which was started by the Young Chefs Academy to encourage children to ‘take over the kitchen’ by being involved in the preparation and planning of meals that day. As childhood obesity rates increase and people use fast or prepackaged food more than ever before, their vision is to empower children to be more active in the cooking process, learn about fresh ingredients and hopefully give them skills to be more independent and confident.
So in my first post for Natbees let me encourage you whether you have your own children, nieces and nephews or friends with little ones to try cooking with them. It can seem intimidating but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Read on to discover some of the benefits:
- It’s a Basic life skill: Everybody needs to eat and at some point they will need to learn so why not start them young? Letting them assist you can mean the task takes longer and I’m definitely guilty of sometimes not letting my daughter help when we’re already a bit late for dinner. By allowing them to try mixing or chopping and not jumping in to ‘do it for them’ they can learn the skills to become a more useful cook in the future. The teenager who can make themselves a banana loaf versus the one who reaches for a box of cookies when hungry.
- Cultivates an attitude of ‘I can’ not ‘I can’t’: This was a benefit I had not considered before. While researching for this post I came across an article from The New York Times that said cooking allows children to look at food in a restaurant or a supermarket pre-packaged meal and realise that they could make it themselves which instills confidence in them. That confidence and pride in their capability can then carry over to other aspects of their life as well as having a healthier relationship with food.
- Allows Family Bonding: As I mentioned, some of my favourite memories are of baking with my mum as a kid and already some of my favourite moments with my daughter have been in the kitchen. By getting into the habit of cooking together, whether its pizza night or weekend breakfasts, it gets conversation going. Anything that helps absolve a teenage attitude! Other benefits I had not considered are families who cook together are more likely to sit and eat together; be closer and increases the probability of better school performance! Our favourite meals to make are blueberry pancakes, pizza and an incredible courgette loaf.
- They can practice maths, science and reading skills: For little ones it’s a fun way to introduce this and older kids can practice maths without it feeling too serious. From reading the recipe, measuring out what is required, understanding why they need self-raising rather than plain flour there’s lots of fun learning opportunities to be had.
- Understand where food comes from: You might have seen Jamie Oliver’s TV show where kids thought milk was made in bottles and couldn’t grasp that meat came from animals. Cooking lets them see what fresh ingredients look like and what actually goes into a dish making them more likely to choose home cooked food over ready made as they get older. For picky eaters, getting them in the kitchen is a great way to encourage interest and they’re more likely to at least taste a dish or food they’ve made themselves.
- Being able to cook for loved ones: Lets be honest the way to most peoples hearts is via their stomachs. Indeed my husband’s kitchen prowess may have gone some way to winning my heart and guess how old he was when he first entered the kitchen? I look forward to the day of having breakfast cooked for me by my daughter but for now it’s sweet to be together and bake a cake for a play date or whip up dinner for her dad.
Whilst there are some very important benefits of taking kids into the kitchen the bottom line is cooking is a fun activity. For me there is nothing more uplifting than seeing my daughter running to get her step stool, pushing up her sleeves and excitedly grabbing the nearest ingredient.
I hope this encourages you, allow it to get messy and enjoy your creation together – however it turns out!
PIN IT FOR LATER::