Cooking food with your children is a great way to spend time together, and for them to learn about healthy eating.
Kids love developing new skills, and even fussy eaters may be tempted by dishes they've made themselves.
Let them have a go in the kitchen, and praise them for their efforts. They might even help with the washing-up.
Keep children safe in the kitchen
It's essential to supervise children in the kitchen at all times.
Restrict the jobs that you give them according to their age and ability. For example, pre-schoolers might only mix dough with their hands, whereas older children could peel and chop vegetables.
Don't forget to tell them the hygiene and safety rules before you start. Explain why some things in a kitchen are dangerous.
Kitchen safety tips include:
- Never run in the kitchen.
- Mop up spills straight away.
- Hold and use knives with great care (show children the correct way).
- Always wear oven gloves when putting something in or getting something out of the oven.
- Watch out for fat spitting from a hot frying pan or roasting tin.
- Turn pan handles into the hob, but not over a flame.
Important hygiene rules include:
- Always wash your hands before you start, and after, handling raw meat or fish. Find out why you should never wash chicken.
- Make sure surfaces are clean before any food goes near them. This is especially important if you have pets.
- Clean surfaces that have had raw meat on them immediately, such as chopping boards.
- Always check that poultry and pork are cooked all the way through. A good rule of thumb is that the meat is cooked when the juices run clear.
- Wash all fruit and vegetables.
Read more about how to prepare and cook food safely.
No matter how much care is taken, accidents in the kitchen do happen and can be serious, especially if young children are left unsupervised. Read about how to prevent injuries at home.
Make cooking fun
Take kids shopping with you so they can choose the ingredients themselves.
Give yourself plenty of time, and have some spare ingredients in case mistakes are made.
Choose something that will be simple and healthy. It can be fun to make something that the children can make into shapes or decorate with a smiley face.
You can get plenty of ideas from child-friendly recipe books or even kids' cookery programmes on TV.
Article provided by NHS Choices