Thursday, 6 August 2015

Cook together this summer!

The lovely Riverford, where our weekly veg box comes from, are running a great campaign at the moment that I felt compelled to share. Quite simply, they want parents and their children to cook together from scratch and have given the added incentive of some prizes on offer for those people who submit a photo or video of their children in action in the kitchen. You can read all the details on their website and the competition runs until the end of August.

Coincidentally, the day I first read about the campaign, was the day our veg box gets delivered. I decided to get stuck in immediately and with no plans for dinner that evening, had my 3-year old and 6-year old unpack some of our veg and started them washing, preparing and chopping. Between them they made a salad and my son topped and tailed an entire bag of green beans that we ate tossed in oil and vinegar with the rest of our meal. Whilst I gave them instructions, I didn't once help them or try to change the way they were doing something. They did it all themselves and were really proud of themselves for it! An added bonus for me, was that they were genuinely a big help and it meant I had less dinner making to do myself - win, win!

My son asked if they could help with dinner the next day. He ended up being too exhausted after his sports camp that day but my three year old daughter helped again and made these cheesy courgette and carrot balls that we ate with pasta that night. At the weekend, they helped make this tart, mostly by podding the broad beans and then podding again once cooked. 

I have always involved the children with baking and the odd thing here and there like podding beans and occasional chopping but now I hope we can keep up the participation with meal preparation a bit more regularly (when moods and time permits).

A few tips when working with young children in the kitchen:

Manage your expectations. There will likely be more mess, things won't necessarily get chopped or prepared the same way you do it but that's ok! 

Make it fun! If possible, have in mind a variety of tasks they can help with to keep their interest up. Nobody likes scrubbing/podding/peeling/chopping the same thing for a really long time so divide up longer tasks and give them something a bit more fun/creative to do after a more boring task.

Involve them in choosing a meal. If your children are old enough, ask them for suggestions of what your family could eat that day. If it is something they have chosen, they are more likely to be enthusiastic about helping prepare it. Alternatively, give them a choice of two meals that you know you have the ingredients and time to make and let them choose which one.

Be brave! Let them use sharp knives, just gently instruct and demonstrate first. You will be surprised that they can probably handle them better than you imagined. I don't think I ever let my son use a sharp knife at age 3 but I let my 3-year old daughter use one and so far, there have been no unpleasant incidents! If she is struggling to cut something, she will just ask her older brother or me to take over. Let them crack eggs, if you get shell in with it or if one drops on the floor, it is not the end of the world. They need to practise these kinds of things to get better at them.

The summer holidays offer the perfect opportunity to spend more time in the kitchen with your children and #cooktogether, so why not give it a go and get involved too? Do you already cook from scratch sometimes with your children? What kinds of tasks do they enjoy most and do you have any additional tips to add to my list?

This is not a sponsored post, I just really like Riverford's idea and wanted to spread the word!
You Baby Me Mummy

6 comments:

  1. A great post! I enjoyed reading it. I am totally into children helping in the kitchen - it is such a key life skill. As you say, it is also helpful and great fun! I have not heard of Riverford but will definitely be taking a look. We cook together all the time. Another tip is to take them shopping on some occasions (when time allows!) to help choose the ingredients or grow some of them - that is even more fun! Thanks for sharing #TheList

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    1. Thank you! Great to hear you cook together lots and I like your tip of shopping for ingredients together. I agree that growing some together is even more fun - we do that too and it's great for getting children interested in food and learning about where it comes from. Thanks for reading!

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  2. Love cooking with the kids it creates such great "together" time #TheList

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    1. Great "together" time is right! Thanks for your comment :-)

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  3. It's so important to involve them from early on in the kitchen isn't it - I think it helps with a whole host of things, let alone giving them important life skills :) #TheList

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    1. I agree Stephanie, it does help with a whole host of things. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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Thank you for reading. I'd love to have your comments and thoughts!