We've teamed up with Nicole from Kids Kitchen to bring you top tips for giving little chefs a taste for cooking - and staying safe with kids in the kitchen. 

7 ways to give kids a taste for the joys of cooking

  1. Theme your cooking session: turn cooking into an adventure by theming foods or mealtimes on colours, shapes, favourite books or TV characters. At Halloween, make a 'Green Witch's Brew' by adding spinach to a fruit smoothie, or cook up an orange themed meal of sweet potato, baked beans and Red Leicester.
  2. Make food (and the cooking experience) fun: try and ignore the inevitable mess and be relaxed to avoid cooking becoming a stressful activity! To make things easier, pre-weigh ingredients for younger kids and make sure everything is to hand. Leave enough time to cook, remembering that things are bound to take longer.

  3. Be creative, and the kids will be too: even when you're outside the kitchen you can make cooking fun by playing food related games (e.g. ask your children or grandchildren to find fruit and vegetables beginning with every letter of the alphabet; or ask how many types of green vegetables or red fruit there are), and use food playsets, apps, TV programmes to get their interest.

  4. Put them in charge: give kids responsibility in the kitchen when you cook and let them be the chef. Even from a young age, kids can help mix ingredients, grate cheese, crack eggs, roll pastry, and much more. Getting the kids involved means they're more likely to try the finished product.

  5. Encourage them with lots of praise: children are always thrilled to show what they’ve made, especially when it’s enthusiastically eaten. If you can’t share their dish at family mealtimes, you could create a special scrap-cookbook with pictures of their efforts alongside the recipe. Give your kids their own kit (apron, spoon, knife, chef hat, etc.) to inspire their enthusiasm.

  6. Give them control: letting children choose their own recipe book from the bookshop or library, or looking at yours to choose a recipe to make together is a great way of encouraging kids to experiment with food and cooking. Librarys are a great place to find cookery books. 

  7. Stimulate their creativity: food as “art” is a great idea – try giving the kids vegetables and fruit to create their own edible pictures or use fruit and vegetables as an art activity themselves, e.g. potato printing, using beetroot “dye”, making pasta necklaces etc. Have a look at Pinterest for great ideas, particularly the themed bento boxes. A smiley face sandwich is always a winner! 

Our favourite food art pieces

What can my child do?

In Nicole's classes, parents are often amazed at what their kids can do in the kitchen. Practising cooking techniques is great for developing your child's motorskills and inspiring them to try new food. Get them trying these fun and safe tasks and they'll soon be on their way to child Masterchef.

Activities for under 3's: 

  • Washing vegetables - a great way of teaching kids the names of vegetables and sparking an interest in new foods. 
  • Stirring ingredients - easier if they're at room temperature. 
  • Mashing with a fork or potato masher - again watch out for temperature. 
  • Sprinkling - flour, cake decorations and icing sugar, put a tray underneath to avoid too much mess. 
  • Spooning ingredients onto scales - you might need to help.

Activities for 3 - 5 year olds: 

  • Grating - carrots and cheese are great for practising grating. Grip the whole vegetable firmly and curl fingers in. Stop before you reach the end to avoid grated fingers! Thicker carrots will allow more time for safe grating.
  • Cutting - start with soft ingredients like mushroom, butter or strawberries. Nicole recommends a soft plastic knife or a mezzaluna. 
  • Chopping - firstly, show your child how to pass knives safely by holding the top of the blade with the non-dominant hand to stabilise. To chop, have them grip the handle firmly with their dominant hand, and place the palm of their free hand flat on top of the blade. Press down, they want to have their weight over the item being chopped. Always watch younger kids closely and make sure they are standing in a stable position. 
  • Rolling, shaping and cutting dough It's easier to show kids how to roll with adult sized rolling pins with handles. Stand behind them, gently place your hands on top of your kids, and show them how to roll. Get some fun dough cutters and let the pastry party begin.
  • Other - weighing, mixing, sieving, buttering bread, spreading icing, and easy kneading (show them how it's done and don't worry if you need to step in to complete the task). 

About The Kids’ Kitchen

The Kids’ Kitchen is an award-winning kids’ cookery school based in North London set up by Nicole Freeman. The Kids’ Kitchen aims to show kids how much fun cooking can be and encourage them to try new foods by involving them in preparing and cooking their own meals.

#CookSomethingGrand is part of a series of seasonal campaigns that form part of the Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain, which outlines five principles to tackling food waste and has been developed by Unilever and Hubbub.