Cooking with kids has always been a fun activity that allows you to spend some quality time with your loved ones. It makes your holiday fun while helping your child turn creative. And with the summer vacations round the corner, engaging them in a little bit of cooking can be really fun!
Engage your child in doing simple tasks like mixing, chopping or decorating the finished dish to keep them busy and focused. Since kids have a very short attention span, it is advisable to keep everything ready beforehand. Choose a kid-friendly recipe with minimum usage of stove. If the recipe calls for stove usage, it is advisable that you do the stove prep and assign simple tasks to your kid like mixing, chopping until he/she is of the right age and is comfortable.
While taking a trip to your favorite destination if you decide to stay in a holiday home or a homestay, you might want to ease the cooking grocery activity. Hence, it is better to do a double check on the ingredient list, availability or cooking equipment which will help you decide on the menu.
Few steps to keep in mind before you start cooking with your kids:
Set out your pots, pans or ingredients before you begin. You don’t want your child to be left unattended while you’re away fetching stuff. Designate a trash can or bowl close to your work table and also kitchen paper or towels. Allow them to touch (washed hands) and feel the ingredients. It gives them a free hand to be innovative. They might just surprise you with what they see.
Make something that your child likes or will enjoy cooking. A favorite pasta or make something out of the fruits (seasonal) they like. Teaching them to measure ingredients may enhance their math skills too.
Lastly, be patient and get together (incentive for cleaning may help) to clean the table or space once done. It not only teaches them organization but also helps make them feel as part of the entire activity.
Kitchen tasks for different age groups:
2-3 yrs (Toddlers): They are curious, enjoy being by your side. You cannot assign any task at this age but they will surely enjoy being around you and watching what you are doing; if they get to taste some of it, even better. Watching them and them watching you is a great experience.
4-5 yrs: Get them to mix; mixing is easy and fun for all kids; measure first and then allow them to measure; breaking lettuce or removing peas from its skin can be fun; make ladoos, where you need stuff mashed together into a ball. While it is not advised to allow them near a stove or use any sharp objects, their hands are nimble and the exercise on hands and touching vegies has never been unhealthy. They can take unto 10% of the work task.
6-7yrs: They can help you grate cheese, work with their hands easily and help you cut cookies with a cookie cutter; they are also good at garnishing or decorating food. 30% of the dish is now made by your child.
8-9yrs: You can now get them acquainted with using the stove (always under supervision). They should be able to microwave, melt chocolate, bake or make pasta sauce. They should be good with pouring and mixing and will be able to measure the ingredients well. At this stage they can make 50% of the dish themselves.
10-12+: Can be very good in the kitchen and can be independent too. Using of knives and stove is advisable under parental supervision. In fact if you are a good manager you can sit back and watch while your child makes you a meal!
Dishes that you can make with children in small or large groups – chocolates, ice-creams (without an ice-cream maker), sandwiches, cookies, cakes , fudge, truffles, ladoos, pizzas, lemonades or cupcakes.
Kids love sweets and majority of them find it exciting to make them. Frozen ice-cream shake is like an ice-cream but made without an ice-cream maker. It is easy and can be prepared without any use of stove with only cream and condensed milk as the main ingredients. We do use microwave to melt the chocolate which can be negated or you could melt it and give to your kids to dip the ingredients. Coating fruits with chocolate can be a fun way to encourage your child to have fruits. However, over-heating or not heating the chocolate at the right temperature can make the chocolate not workable.
You can assign different tasks for different age groups.
Ingredients for chocolate dipped biscuits:
Square or round biscuits – glucose biscuits or crackers (I used Britannia’s crackers)
Chocolate compound for dipping the crackers – approx. 50gms (optional)
Ingredients for ice-cream shake:
Milkmaid – 1 can
Cream – 400gms
Blueberry sauce/filling or jam or mango puree or any other fruit filling for serving
Chocolate should be at room temperature. Melt chocolate in a microwave for 40 sec. and coat the cracker/biscuit. Refrigerate until solid.
In a bowl, whip the cream until thick and fluffy. Add the condensed milk and stir gently.
Pour the mixture over a bowl or shot glasses. Allow it to chill for 6 hours or overnight.
Spoon it into individual cups or glasses and drizzle some blueberry sauce. Enjoy with some chocolate covered biscuits.