Adult cooking classes are rocketing in popularity – across the nation chefs are catering to all levels, from would be gourmets to those who struggle to fry an egg. Not knowing how to cook a simple healthy meal can be a real problem for young adults, and you can make sure your kids don’t go hungry at 18 by cooking with them from a young age.
There are plenty of fun recipes for kids out there to suit any age or level of experience, while teaching key health ideas such as nutrition, balanced diet, and bodily responsibility.
Learning to cook – preschool style
Tiny tots are best kept away from the sharper end of kitchen utensils, and allowed to join in on tasks such as baking where they can do a grand and messy job helping with the measuring out and mixing of ingredients. At most British schools, kids start taking the odd heavily supervised cooking class at around age 5, so don’t be afraid to encourage them at home.
Cakes are a super easy way to start, and cupcakes might just be the best cakes of all. It’s amazing how many healthy foods you can hide inside them too. Of course, cakes aren’t the healthiest food on the planet, but this is a great time to teach the mantra of “everything in moderation”. It’s ok to indulge a little if you think about your diet a lot, and even better to sneak as many veggies in as you can. This is a great age for teaching kids that it’s fun to try new things, and not to be afraid of food they don’t immediately recognise – especially when it comes to veg.
Kids aged 8 and up can really start to get going in the kitchen. This is a great age to start teaching them about electronic equipment, and paving the way towards an understanding of nutrition. Children this age still love sorting things into categories, and it can be really fun to make balancing your meals into a game. Just don’t get too hung up on whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable – it’s good for you either way!
A simple coloured chart is a great way to visualise this concept for each meal. Try asking your little ones to fill in sections labelled “vegetables”, “protein”, “grains”, and “fruits”. You can even lay the ingredients out on a plate to bring the idea to life!
There are ways to imitate complicated dishes in healthy ways – such as grilling wholemeal bread for pizza bases rather than covering the kitchen in sticky dough. Remember that children at this age are interested in “why” – so make the food memorable and exciting! Bright colours are a surefire way to many a primary schooler’s heart, as are these rainbow pancake recipes for kids.
Aged 13 and up can be a really challenging age to keep your charges interested in domestic tasks, but puberty is an incredibly important time for managing nutrition and teaching young people to take responsibility for their bodies and health. Younger teens can usually be bribed into helping out with whatever you’re cooking. Older teens can be given the responsibility of preparing a family meal once a week, and trying something a little more challenging than recipes for kids. They may moan about it now, but the added confidence will be very appreciated when they move out!
Encouraging teenagers to eat healthily is super important, and you can show them how easy it is to eat healthily with even easier recipes like lasagne. Be sure to point out to them what an effect greasy and fatty foods can have on their skin, for a start! Teens interested in sport should be especially open to talking about nutrition and we recommend looking into their favourite sports team’s club diet for inspiration. Just don’t forget to scale down the portions, they’re unlikely to be the size of an adult rugby player yet!