Easy ways to pass your love of cooking down to your grandchildren

Easy ways to pass your love of cooking down to your grandchildren

Spending time in the kitchen together is fun for both of you – and it’ll give your grandchildren a healthy love of food that’ll last a lifetime…

Whether they’re toddlers or school age, most children love experimenting with, learning about and, of course, eating food.

However, many of us understandably shy away from letting little ones loose in the kitchen – it’s hot, messy and potentially unsafe. But baking, cooking, playing with food and, yes, making a mess, is one of the best grandparent activities going.

Not only is it a brilliant bonding experience, but it’ll give your grandchildren skills – and a love of cooking – that’ll likely continue until they’re grandparents themselves.

Need inspiration? Get your aprons on, roll up your sleeves and try some of these great suggestions that’ll keep everyone involved and interested, whatever their age.

Babies (one to two years old)

  1. Make play dough with flour, salt and water, then encourage your grandchildren to roll or squish it between their fingers.

  2. Fill a low-down kitchen cupboard with plastic pots, cups and trays. They’ll enjoy taking everything out, putting things back, stacking them up and knocking them down.

  3. Make spaghetti and add food dye to the water while cooking it. Babies will love playing around with it in a highchair or on a mat on the floor.

Toddlers (two to four years old)

  1. Let them press the buttons on appliances like the electric mixer and blender. The noisier the better!

  2. Make cakes together and let them add pre-measured ingredients to the bowl before stirring the mixture (with a little help).

  3. Put plastic toy animals into small tubs, fill them with water and freeze. Wearing gloves, kids can ‘rescue’ the animals by floating the ice blocks in warm water until they melt.

  4. Bake simple biscuits, shortbread or cookies together. Once cooled, your grandkids can decorate them with sprinkles, dried fruit and icing.

  5. A big bowl of dried pasta shapes can provide endless entertainment – younger children can transfer it between containers for hours; while older ones can play ‘café’ with it.

  6. Make edible necklaces by threading cereal shapes or cooled pasta onto string.

  7. Make them feel important by helping you prepare dinner – scrubbing vegetables with a brush, pounding things with a pestle and mortar, and helping lay the table. Just allow extra time, as little hands are slower.

  8. Make salt dough decorations. Combine one cup salt, two cups flour and one cup lukewarm water, then roll out the mixture and cut it into festive shapes, making a hole at the top for hanging. Bake in the oven at 250° for three hours or until hard; then paint and thread with ribbon.

  9. Turn your kitchen into an ice cream parlour – let your grandchildren create sundaes with different ice cream flavours and plenty of toppings, such as fruit, chocolate chips, sauce and squirty cream.

  10. Teach them how to do the washing-up with a brush and a stack of plastic plates and cups. A tiny drop of Fairy Washing Up Liquid is all you need for a sink full of dishes, plenty of long-lasting bubbles… and lots of fun.

School age (five and over)

  1. Teach them how to crack eggs – it’s a skill for life.

  2. When baking, encourage them to measure out dry ingredients and liquids (this will also help with their maths skills).

  3. Make cakes together, then craft little marzipan animals to decorate the tops.

  4. Have tacos for dinner. Prepare small bowls of guacamole, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and beans together, then sit down and have fun filling taco shells with different combinations.

  5. Teach them how to chop up different types of fruit and vegetables correctly. Use a dinner table knife rather than a sharp one to avoid accidents. You could use the results to make soup.
  6. Make sandwiches together for a picnic, inventing unusual fillings with the contents of your cupboards or fridge.

  7. Bread making is surprisingly easy for kids to pick up if you use dried yeast and an all-in-one method. Alternatively, let them have fun mastering a bread-making machine instead.

  8. Prepare salad together – they will enjoy arranging things prettily on a plate, and even inventing their own salad dressings with oil, vinegar and honey.

  9. Have a go at making homemade pizzas, decorating the bases with everything from cheese and salami to peppers and pineapple – the crazier the better!

Do you have any other great ideas for getting little ones involved in the kitchen? Do share your comments below.

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