I Can Cook: Cooking and baking with children

Cooking with children can be fun and teaches them about numbers, weights, ingredients, new tastes and healthy eating.

Katy from I Can Cook

Introduction

Cooking together and encouraging children to take part in choosing, preparing and making simple dishes can help them eat a wider variety of foods and even improve their Maths!

You don't have to be an expert yourself - start with something simple, then you can focus on making it it fun for both of you...

Deciding what to make and shopping for ingredients together can be a great learning opportunity - talk about where the ingredients come from and get them to think about how much of everything you'll need.

Once you're ready to cook, let them help you weigh the ingredients - look at the numbers on the scales together and count out ingredients like eggs as you add them in.

Getting them to think about and use words like lighter and heavier is great practice for the essential Maths skills they'll be using when they get into the classroom.

I Can Cook recipes

In I Can Cook, presenter Katy brings the whole learning-to-cook experience to life for a group of young helpers. The show teaches simple recipes and useful kitchen skills – such as how to mix, stir and sift ingredients, and how to wash your hands before preparing food and the importance of tidying up!

The recipes from I Can Cook can now be found on the BBC Food website.I Can Cook recipes are all specially designed with children’s needs and abilities in mind but need a grown-up to help. There are recipes for everything from healthy treats to yummy dinners, all designed to be nutritionally appropriate for children and fun to make!

How to make it fun for both of you

There’s no doubt that the secret to success lies in the planning. Try having old newspapers at the ready to cover anything and everything which can easily be scooped up afterwards, old baggy shirts to cover the young cook, big bowls for stirring (reduces the splashing effect!) and plastic covers at the ready for recipe books. Then, once it is all over, make sure you involve your young cook in cleaning up too!

Even if the results are inedible, the magic memories of helping a parent or carer in the kitchen will last forever. Just try to remember that when your kitchen floor's knee-deep in flour and cracked eggs...

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Top tips

  • Fussy eaters are more likely to try new foods if they have prepared them.Teach kitchen safety - remind your child about hot ovens and hobs and show them how to handle cooking utensils safely.Let your toddler practise cutting through things (like pastry) with a plastic play knife.Let them help you with safer jobs such as sieving, mixing and whisking. • Fussy eaters are more likely to try new foods if they have prepared them.Watch ‘I Can Cook’ or ‘Big Cook Little Cook’ together and start making plans! Choose a time when you are both relaxed and not pressured for time so you keep the experience as enjoyable and stress-free as you can. Get your child to help with every step of the process – from choosing a recipe to clearing up afterwards. Take photos of your cooking experience together and encourage your child to talk through the memory of it afterwards. This will help to reinforce the learning aspects too

Expert opinion

The children on I Can Cook always look forward to the 'tea party' at the end, when we chat about what we did. We talk about what we might cook next time, who we'll cook for, and celebrate what we’ve made. By the end of the meal, it seems like we've all become good friends. It's amazing what cooking together can do!

Katy Ashworth, Presenter, I Can Cook

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