Cooking books for kids where do you start? There are lots of options out there with books from professional cooks such as Donna Hay, to an unofficial Harry Potter cookbook or a junior Masterchef book. It can be hard to decide which one is going to be best for the child.
What to Consider when Choosing Cooking Books for Kids
The Age of the Child
You may want to get kids involved from a young age such as one, and there is no reason why they can’t be. I had my niece making sushi at 11 months old – admittedly there was a lot of rice eaten and not a huge amount of sushi made! But the point for me was that it got her interested and involved in cooking from early on, plus helped develop her hand/eye coordination skills. Another activity we used to do together was measuring and pouring which involved rice bubbles. Taking a bowl of dry rice bubbles and scooping them up in a cup and pouring into another bowl. Who’s to say that’s not cooking? More recently with my 18 month old niece, we made the Raspberry breakfast balls from one of the Story Antics books. She loved this, a really quick and easy recipe. I think with younger children you need to be aware that a long complicated recipe won’t hold their attention, you want to look for a book that has a few simple steps to keep them engaged. This might also be the case with older children depending on their development level.
Their Skill level
The skill level of the child will depend on what they are able to create. Some children can use a knife and fork and others just struggle, if they struggle with a knife and fork then maybe you don’t want them to make a recipe where there are 10 veggies to chop, instead, choose a recipe where there are only 2 so that they get to practise but don’t get tired/frustrated with it. The techniques in cooking can also be hard to master (even for adults) so you want to start off with a recipe that they can follow and the results will turn out great even if they don’t do it 100% right. Things like muffins are great for this, as it is pretty hard to stuff them up.
Their Excitement Level
For some children, they can’t wait to help you in the kitchen or cook with Grandma, but for others, you have to practically drag them kicking and screaming! This is where cookbooks such as the Story Antics ones which are personalised come into play, you can get the child interested because they can see it is them doing the cooking and Mum/Dad/Grandma etc is helping. Suddenly it becomes something that they are in charge of rather than following a grownup.
How Much You Want to Get Involved
Some recipes will need you to supervise more than others, for example, if it uses a technique that the child hasn’t come across before, or maybe there are lots of pieces of equipment that you don’t feel comfortable them using unsupervised. I know one of the things that mum Evelina loved about our Banana Muffins recipe book was that her 8 year old daughter could just get on and do it all with very little supervision, she just helped with putting in and taking out the muffins from the oven. For Evelina this made the book a winner, her daughter felt like she had really achieved something and Evelina could get on with other things.
The Mess Factor
Some recipes use a million items…. Three bowls, a sieve, a pan, a food processor, a whisk, cake tins and spoons. Therefore you are left with all of that to clean up as well as the bits of mixture that end up on the floor, clothing and faces! Sometimes it is all just too much. You want a recipe that doesn’t turn the kitchen into a war zone and doesn’t require 2 hours of cleaning for 10 minutes of fun!
The End Result
Choose cooking books for kids that produce something that the child will like to eat. If you want them to try new things, such as zucchini, zucchini muffins are not too much of a stretch, as most children will eat a muffin they have made. But something more exotic such as duck ragu might not go down as well…
The idea is to have fun, learn new skills and enjoy yourself, so choosing a recipe that fits the child, their skills, your patience and time is very important. Plus a recipe that is written with children in mind is MUCH easier to follow than one for adults. I made, well, tried to make boiled lollies with my nephew and niece when they were 7 and 5 years old and it was an unmitigated disaster. I hadn’t followed the recipe before, it was obviously now I look back, aimed above the children’s patience levels and was VERY tricky to get right. Plus the clean up was a nightmare. Needless to say, I won’t be doing that again!
What have you made recently with a child that has been a resounding success or failure? 🙂 Let me know in the comments below….