Little Chefs! - A Guide to Cooking with your Kids

Little Chefs! - A Guide to Cooking with your Kids
Guest post by Rose Brownlie

Kids love cooking. Of course they would, because when they help out it usually becomes a messy affair, and there’s not much in life that a kid loves more than mess. Whilst that may not sound like the strongest argument for involving your children when you cook, if you don’t mind having to clean up a little afterwards, it can be a very rewarding, enriching and enjoyable experience.

Most kids love to feel like they’re helping you out, often from an early age. But they tend not to have any sense of what they can't do, and can end up trying to help with everything from decorating a room to wanting to talk on the phone for you as you're negotiating the best credit card balance transfer. It’s easy to try and dissuade them from getting involved, as their input will usually make a chore take twice as long, but it’s great if you can help facilitate their innate desire to help. When children hit their teen years, you can pretty much say goodbye to their voluntary support, so the more you encourage it whilst they’re young the better!

Think Small

Some kids will want to help you with things that are way too complicated for their abilities. With cooking, for example, they might want to help you chop the vegetables, but handing the knife over to them is too dangerous if they’re small. However, you can encourage them to help out in different ways, like instead of chopping they can help you stir the pot or take the vegetable peelings to the trash. It’s pretty amazing what kids are willing to do to have some input. It makes them feel useful, it helps build their self-esteem, and it teaches them about their capabilities. It’s also a great way to teach responsibility, that chores around the home aren’t just for mom and dad; it’s for the family as a whole.

It’s all about the Journey

When cooking with kids there has to be some element of not expecting or requiring the food to end up being perfect. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about the process of cooking, creating, bonding and learning. And of course when you’re cooking together, your child won’t only be learning about food, they’ll also be learning a whole range of other skills, such as coordination, team work, even hygiene – skills that will benefit them hugely in later life.

To get you started…

Here are some totally simple recipes that are great fun to make with your kids (and tasty too!):

Cinnamon Oaties

200g soft butter or margarine
200g sugar (or for a sugar-free alternative try 7 dessertspoons of Agave Syrup)
85g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 – 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (according to your preference)
250g oats
150g California raisins
3 tablespoons milk
  1. Melt the butter and sugar together gently in a saucepan, and then add the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, milk and raisins. Mix well.
  2. Divide the mixture into small balls and flatten each one onto a greased and lined baking tray.
  3. Bake at 190C/370F/Gas mark 5 until they turn golden brown (around 15 – 20 mins).
  4. Let them cool on a wire rack. Although they do taste good when they’re still warm!
Banana Loaf

125g butter or margarine
125g sugar
2 eggs, beaten
500g mashed bananas (about 3 medium sized)
250g self-raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in the beaten eggs, and then the bananas.
  3. Sift the flour and soda together into the bowl, and fold into the mixture.
  4. Pour the mixture into a greased and lined loaf tin, or cake tin, and bake at 180C/350F/Gas mark 4 for 1hr 15mins.
  5. Allow to cool on a wire rack.


If you’re using a fan oven, you may need to cover the banana loaf tin with aluminium foil after about half an hour, otherwise the outside can burn a little.
If you’re feeling naughty, try adding some chunks of milk chocolate into the cake mixture!

Macaroni Cheese (Serves 4)

250g macaroni pasta
40g butter
40g plain flour
600ml milk
250g grated cheddar cheese
50g grated parmesan
  1. Boil the macaroni in a large saucepan of salted water for 8 – 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat in a saucepan slightly larger than used for the macaroni. Add the flour and stir to form a paste, cooking for a few minutes.
  3. Gradually whisk in the milk, a little at a time. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes until you have a thick, smooth sauce.
  4. Preheat the grill to hot.
  5. Remove the sauce from the hob, add 175g of the cheese and stir until the cheese has melted.
  6. Add the macaroni to the sauce and mix well. Transfer the mixture to an appropriately sized ovenproof dish.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and place the dish under the hot grill. Cook until the cheese is browned and bubbling, and serve.

Bon appetite!

- by Rose Brownlie



  1. Thanks Rose! Can't wait to try the Banana Loaf.

  2. Ohh, love the sound of the Cinnamon Oaties! Especially with agave syrup. I have a friend who's had to remove gluten from her diet, and she got me hooked on that stuff. It's really good in tea too. :D

    I like the way you write, Rose. :) You have a friendly way about you. lol Keep it up! Great post-- 1'd!


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