A collaboration between Jaana Levanen and Foost
When it’s raining outside, entertaining kids can be a daunting (and often expensive) task. But why not have a fun cooking day at home? The kids will be entertained, you will end up with something tasty to eat and you don’t even need to leave the house to grocery shop!
Teaching kids how to plan and prepare a meal from what is available in the pantry and fridge is an easy, fun and economical way to get kids cooking. Plus, involving kids in food choice and preparation increases their food knowledge, and willingness to try and eat different foods.
So, let’s get cooking. All you need to remember is to LADLE out something yummy.
Have the children look what is in the pantry and fridge ask what they would like to make. Can be savoury or sweet – whatever works with what you have available. Under your guidance discuss and pick out what ingredients could be used.
Sit down together, search for recipes online or recipe books and plan which ingredients are going to be used and how to make it. Don’t be afraid to experiment with ingredient substitutions – it is all part of the fun!
Once you have both decided on a recipe, suggest adding ingredients for a healthy choice. For example if making pasta, suggest adding chopped or grated vegetables into the sauce. If making cookies you could add oats, bananas, sultanas, or even some orange juice.
Take a back seat in the ingredient preparation and cooking processes as much as possible. They are in charge of making the recipe and you are the sous chef.
Children can use cups and measuring spoons, so get them to place all ingredients into a bowl. For hot recipes, get kids to measuring and mix everything and then place the prepared ingredients in cooking pots. For cold recipes (like cookie mixtures) they can place everything in the bowl, help to mix and spoon onto the baking pan. If anything needs chopping or grating, ask them what needs to be done and have them direct you.
Cooking always involves cleaning – and there is no reason kids can’t be involved in this part of cooking either. If you’ve picked a recipe that takes some time to cook in the oven, get the little ones to help dry dishes, put things away or even do some sweeping. They will learn valuable life skills and you won’t feel overwhelmed with mess.
When it is all cooked, sit down together and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Have a relaxed chat about the cooking experience – using what was available (sustainability), deciding on a recipe (problem solving), and how they felt orchestrating the cooking process (decision making) and working as a team.