“Cooking with kids is about harnessing imagination, empowerment and creativity.”
~ Guy Fieri
Ever wondered how children featured on Masterchef Junior can produce such stunning dishes that put even adults to shame? Truth be told, they probably hang out at the kitchen watching the home cooks at work and also helping out. Meal preparation is always a great skill to encourage. After all, you wouldn’t want instant noodles to be a daily affair, right?
It isn’t always easy to please all palettes particularly those of children. Hence, always begin with dishes they like. For us, Western meals seem to be preferable.
Start by planning a dish and determining the ingredients. Then either head to the supermarket or shop online for the essentials that are missing from the pantry. Next – prepare the ingredients!
Basic Kitchen Skills Children Can Master
Most might think having children in the kitchen is a disaster waiting to happen. Accidents happen to adults too. With precaution, education and reminders in place, the kitchen can be a conducive “training ground” for children. Close supervision is necessary when children are at the kitchen helping out. We would advise younger ones to stay away from the stove and oven.
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First, get a stable stool, crate or platform suitable for standing on. This is important for the young children to get a clear view of the adults working and also be able to reach the countertop. Aside from washing fruits and vegetables, separating stems from roots, children can also practise fine motor skills by cutting, chopping and arranging ingredients.
Use suitable tools for children who are eager to learn slicing, cutting and chopping. A butter knife or cake knife could be a good starting point.
For actual cooking, ensure that the child is kept away from the stove at a safe distance. Stirring, flipping or spreading can be done with kitchen tools that have longer handles.
Meals Children Can Help Prepare
1. Scrambled Eggs
We love these for breakfast. Cracking eggs is a skill to master for the little hands. After cracking four eggs into a bowl, whisk or whip it. Add a spoonful of milk and a pinch of salt.
Heat up the pan then pour the egg mixture in and stir it continually until the eggs start coming together. This is one of the basics every child can master quite easily with practice. And who doesn’t like scrambled eggs? For a Seuss twist, try adding green food colouring.
Another popular choice for breakfast – pancakes! They are very easy to make. Eggs, flour, milk, a bit of salt, vanilla extract and baking soda. See the details for extra fluffy pancakes! #protip
Remind your child not to stir the batter too much; a few rounds of gentle folding will do. The kids will take great pleasure attempting to flip the pancakes.
Pancakes are very freezer-friendly. Make more and freeze them to reheat for the lunchbox for school!
We love pizza for its child-friendly recipes. From kneading the dough to slicing up the ingredients, laying out the toppings. Anyone can do it. Our go-to pizza recipe is here. Chill or freeze it for future fuss-free meal prep. Favourite toppings include bacon, low-nitrate sausages, meatballs, LOTS of cheese, olive tapenade and some leafy greens.
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Which child wouldn’t like pasta? It’s a mainstay for families and we usually see it on kids’ menus. It’s the only non-junk food dish I order off the kids’ menu whenever we eat out. It is an easy meal to prepare, with the sauce either store-bought, adding spices and meat, or make your own from scratch. Children will enjoy stirring the sauce as well as cooking the pasta over the stove. Do be careful of the heat!
Recipes-wise, check out one-pot pastas and a classic Bolognese!
An Asian dish is a must. Dumplings or wantons offer a quick balanced diet that comprises fibre, protein and some carbohydrates. Also, dumplings are freezer-friendly. That means making a big batch and storing some for emergency meals!
First, get the children to season the minced meat. For non-meat options, use vegetables like minced leek and cabbage. Purchase the ready-made dumpling skins, place a bowl of water or egg white nearby and your children are ready to wrap some dumplings. We like the recipe here.
6. Meatballs or Salmon Balls
Another easy meal to prepare is meatballs, with a mashed potato side and steamed or saute vegetables. Simply take the minced meat of choice, marinate with herbs and seasoning, roll them into balls and either bake or roast them. We love using salmon as an alternative too. Follow the instructions here.
7. Steamed Fish
Asian mums will always serve steamed fish for its benefits! The fresher the fish, the better it tastes.
It’s now time for a fish selection lesson at the fishmonger’s. Firstly, clean the fish and watch out for its fins that can prick. Scrape the scales off and make two slits on each side of its body.
Children can do this quite easily and then proceed to pour basic seasoning like soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper and dress it with sliced ginger, tomato, lemongrass and garnish it with coriander. There are various steamed fish recipes to use like this one.
How can we forget dessert? Keen to sneak in vegetables or fruits into your child’s diet? Muffins are a great way to hide them. From carrot muffins to banana muffins, mixing the batter is usually really straightforward. Depending on the recipe, you could also adjust the sugar levels to your preference or add in preferred ingredients. Our favourite recipe is one that includes yogurt for a very moist texture.
Easy Meal Ideas for Children to Help With
So there you have it – how you can cook with kids and the eight easy meal ideas children can prepare.
What are your child-friendly meal prep recipes? Share your list with us on social media, and tag @littledayout!
READ: 6 Life Skills Every Child Should Have To Triumph In The Real World
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