My daughter Alexis loves helping Corey and I when we are cooking. She has ‘helped’ me bake cakes and muffins semi-regularly for the last year or so and we even let her roll, cut and decorate cookies occasionally as a special treat. Recently she has wanted to mix just about everything and she has taken to bringing me packets of mac n cheese or other pasta side dishes and asking to cook them. She even eats them afterwards, which is a bonus when she goes through an “I don’t need to stop playing to eat” phase.
On Sunday night we made mini ‘pizzas’ using English muffins as the base. Simply cut the muffins in half, add sauce base, add toppings, grill until cheese browns. Ideally we would have toasted the muffins first for a crispier base but we were hungry so didn’t want to wait for the oven to cook them and our toaster died that very morning so that was no help. They tasted great anyway.
It was really fun and because we used very simple ingredients it was easy. Well as easy as it can be with juggling feeding William his sweet potato at the same time. I put him in the high chair so he could watch but he associates his chair with getting his dinner. So that was a little complicated.
At first I fed William his food while Corey started making the pizzas. Alexis chose to sit at the table and eat a pineapple ring initially but then I encouraged her to get involved. Corey found it a little difficult to work with her at first but he was smiling and laughing before long. After a while we swapped and I had fun with Alexis.
I find cooking with Alexis quite a fun experience now that she is a little older. She can follow directions, mostly, and tries hard to please. Yet it is important to realise that she is very young and as such a few little ‘hiccups’ are pretty much expected. If you expect these things and work with it rather than trying to stop them then cooking with kids will be so much more enjoyable.
- kids are messy.
- Have a big, clean work space. If you don’t want something splashed remove it.
- kids want to see.
- Get them a stool/step/sturdy chair to stand on
- kids will stick their fingers in everything.
- Almost guaranteed.
- Wash their hands before you start
- little kids will lick the spoon before they are finished with it.
- Have a few spoons handy if this bothers you, that way you can swap the food over before it touches the food.
- I get out what we need into plastic bowls and put the rest back so that way I don’t have to worry about contamination
- kids are still developing their fine motor skills and accidents happen.
- I personally do not allow Alexis to use a knife just yet so I cut things before I get her involved. There are still plenty of things she can do to help. The back of a spoon spreads tomato sauce across English muffins just fine.
- If it involves cracking eggs (the pizzas didn’t but cakes do) it could get really messy. Have a cloth handy. Try getting them to crack the egg into a cup or separate bowl rather than straight into the mix so it is easier to fish out egg shell
- kids have their own timing.
- your budding chef might get bored within minutes or might want to perfect their creations for an incessantly long time. Be prepared to step in when need be.
- If the cooking process involves topping something with small ingredients such as chocolates onto cookies or diced meat, cheese and pineapple onto a pizza then young kids will eat a large proportion of the toppings as they go.
- Prepare extra or cope with having a few less toppings on some.
- This can be an easy way to get your kids to try new foods. It’s the easiest way for us to get Alexis to eat meat. We put devon (yeah it’s not overly healthy but it’s cheap), cheese and pineapple on our muffin ‘pizzas’ with a tomato sauce base. Alexis got a great fill of meat, dairy and fruit while she ‘cooked’.