What better way to teach little ones about the food they eat than by getting them involved in making it? Little hands can actually be quite helpful in the kitchen, messy too, but it’s all good fun and will not only keep then entertained for a few hours but can also count towards their home schooling – there are no actual rules, right?
We’ve enlisted the help of London-based cookery school, The Avenue, who are experts in teaching wannabe chefs and curious cooks of all ages. Usually based in Wandsworth, they put on courses for all skill sets and tastes, from bread making to pie workshops, bao bun masterclasses to kid-friendly sessions. Due to the current situation they’ve taken their classes online with daily Instagram Lives streamed straight to your kitchen. Check out their calendar of events for upcoming classes here.
In the meantime, we’ve asked The Avenue Cookery School team to share their top tips for cooking with little ones at home, from cupcakes that are sure to earn you parent points to easy pasta dishes you can sit down to with the family.
First of all; get your little ones to have a look through your cookbooks and let them choose the recipe they want to make. This will give you some valuable breathing time, but will also, hopefully, get your child excited about what they are about to cook.
2. Crank the music up
Get the music playing. At The Avenue Cookery School there is never a quiet moment; get the tunes playing, the dance moves out and watch your baking session rise from a six to a nine in no time. You could even make a cooking playlist together.
3. Try something different
Variety is key so experiment with different flavours. Who wants to eat a plain victoria sponge every time anyway? Let your little ones test out the vanilla, try some cocoa powder or play around with citrus zests – they will have more fun and you will be left with a delicious and different cake everytime.
4. It doesn’t always have to be about cakes
Cooking with children isn’t just about baking, why not try something savoury – homemade pasta or gnocchi is a great place to start. Fun, hands-on and delicious.
5. Make a plan
Create a week’s menu-plan together and stick it on the fridge. Give all the dishes funny names like see-in-the-dark soup (carrot soup). We even have our very own Avenue Menu Planner which you can use to start yourself off (download it here).
6. Get the little ones involved too
For younger kids, when the cooking gets too difficult, you can give them jobs that keep them entertained. They will feel they are being super helpful, when really it is just a clever distraction so you can whip up a delicious dinner without too much distraction. Why not try measuring out exactly 350ml water in a jug or simply just stirring the flour?
7. Make it educational
Since the schools are closed at the moment bring science, maths and English into the kitchen instead. Today’s science lesson could be explaining how yeast works, tomorrow’s maths lesson could be asking how many grams are in a kg and your English lesson could be, reading the ingredients label or recipe out loud.
8. Create a herb garden
Even if you haven’t got a garden all you need is a sunny windowsill and you can grow all sorts. Cress is a cracking place to start and kids will love watching it grow. This will also teach your children an appreciation for homegrown ingredients and where their foods come from.
9. Keep it clean
This one is a favourite and helpful tip when trying to keep the kitchen tidy. Make everything a game; i.e. imagine the surface is made of lava and you only have three lives – if you get something out of the bowl and into the lava you lose a life – hopefully they are competitive enough to try their hardest to make minimal mess.
10. Join a cookalong
Finally, hosts several child-friendly cookery classes. Check out the options here.