Cooking with a 2 year old

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’.  

Alexis was so excited about making it that she even ate the pizza at the end. If I had been better prepared I would maybe have precooked some mushrooms. I’m not a fan of onion or capsicum. Are there any other vegetables that go well on a pizza?

What do you and your kids like to cook?      

7 Replies to “Cooking with a 2 year old”

  1. I haven't always enjoyed cooking with my kids – probably because all 4 of them want to be in the kitchen at once! I've made a roster where we have 'meal helpers' to prepare dinner, or we'll do one-on-one baking time. It's taken me awhile to get over the mess!

  2. Wow! I haven't done any cooking with Georgie yet- more power to you! I love English muffin pizzas. Some great vegetable pizza toppings, are grated zucchini, corn, capsicum, tomatoes 🙂

  3. We started cooking with Emily at about 18 months and she at 3 now loves it. I agree with all your tips but am trying to teach her NOT to lick the spoon before we are finished. Maybe I am being too strict but it is one things that really drives me CRAZY! My hubby got her cutting up mushrooms in the last couple of days with a steak knife so sharp but not too sharp. Now both the girls just love cooking with me and I love sharing this hobby of mine with them.

  4. The Small Child and I enjoy a good bit of cooking. I'm sure she still probably prefers the eating, though… baby steps!

  5. Some great tips there! I'm not a mum (yet) but I've been working with toddlers for almost eight years, and cooking is usually a favourite activity- art and science at the same time!
    I love mini-pizzas made on muffins, my mum always made those for party food when I was growing up, because it's pretty quick to re-stock and almost everyone likes pizza! 🙂

  6. Everything can go on pizza! Kids are often more daring than you think if you give them a wide selection of foods to choose from. My two year old loves broccoli, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and olives!

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