Process Cooking with Kids {7 Easy Recipes}

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Process cooking with kids means not only giving them their first steps to independence but also introducing them to a playful, creative hobby. It’s a life skill that they will use into adulthood, which also gives them a way to express themselves creatively.

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    How I Discovered Process Cooking

    I was first introduced to process cooking when I lived in New Zealand. I attended Playcentre with my son who was then 3. Playcentre is similar to a preschool but co-operatively led by parents.

    I am so, so grateful for our time their, Playcentre taught me so much about child led learning and play. I even completed the Playcentre Introductory Award and my absolute favourite part was setting up the invitations to creative play and process cooking for the children.

    Like most parents I struggled to find the time to set aside to cook with my son. I was always rushing to get breakfast / lunch / dinner on the table and just took control of making the food. But after planning and running a few process cooking sessions at Playcentre, I decided I wanted to set aside more time for us to cook for fun at home.

    Now we are back in the UK, we continue to love our cooking sessions together. I can definitely see that my 6 year boy old is already way more confident in the kitchen than his dad. I’m excited to see how we continue to play, create and connect with each other through process cooking.

    What is Process Cooking

    Process cooking is about the in-between and not the end result.

    Process cooking with the children at Playcentre really helped to switch my thinking. Cooking with my kid wasn’t about the end result but about the process. Yes, of course it’s great to end up with a yummy treat to share but that’s not the point.

    Its about all the learning and fun that happens in between.

    Process cooking with kids is about letting your child take the lead.

    As a mum I really want my son to have self confidence in the kitchen and grow his self esteem through learning about, creating and sharing his food. So in our cooking sessions, I resist my urge to take over and let my boy take the lead.

    I am his cheer leader, safety officer and support person when he needs it. I set it up and he runs the show!

    Benefits of Process Cooking

    Process cooking with kids can form a wonderful bond between parent and carer, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Here are some other benefits:

    1. Developing motor skills – Cooking with kids can help them to develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
    2. Learning about Nutrition – Cooking with kids helps them to understand the importance of nutrition and how to make healthy food choices.
    3. Enhancing Creativity – Kids are naturally creative, and cooking helps to nurture this by letting them explore and experiment with different ingredients and recipes.
    4. Building Confidence – Cooking with kids helps to build self-confidence by giving them the opportunity to display their talents and successes.
    5. Strengthening Family Bonds – Cooking with kids can be a great bonding activity that brings the family together.
    6. Teaching responsibility – Cooking with kids helps to teach them responsibility and the importance of following instructions and directions.
    7. Fun and Entertainment – Cooking with kids can be fun and entertaining, as they get to explore new ingredients and flavours while having a blast.
    8. Increasing Knowledge – Cooking with kids helps to increase their knowledge of food, flavours, nutrition, and culinary techniques.
    9. Developing Problem Solving Skills – Cooking with kids helps them to practice problem solving skills by learning how to adjust recipes and techniques to create delicious dishes.
    10. Developing Patience – Cooking with kids can help to develop their patience and ability to wait for food to cook.

    Cheese and Sweetcorn Scones – A Playcentre Favourite!

    5 Tips on How to Make Cooking with your Kids Calmer

    Something that I found difficult was that our cooking sessions sometimes ended up a bit stressful and rushed. So, here are my top tips to help process cooking with kids go smoothly.

    1. Be mindful. Notice where you are, what you are doing and be in the moment. Enjoy each others company and focus of what you are doing in the present. Its so precious to spend this time together.
    1. Introduce a relaxation technique or two! You may of noticed I love to sneak in a calming breathing exercise, maybe a mindful moment, a little relaxation or just a check in to my cooking sessions. This one to one time is so important. It’s a great opportunity to share about how we are doing.
    2. Use less ingredients. I try to use 2 – 6 ingredients max. It just makes things easier and less messy. I usually get the ingredients ready and prepped and then invite my son up to check them out.
    3. Use simple recipes with simple ingredients. I have made some recipe cards which are great for keeping things simple. I try to not make things too complicated, but I do like to introduce new skills that are fun like using the electric whisk. That was fun!
    4. Get prepped. Make sure you have all the equipment and ingredients you need and get them ready before you start. That means you can focus on being present and connecting rather than rushing around.
    5. Reduce and accept the mess but do have ‘Kitchen Rules’ that are followed by adults and kids. Mine are washing hands, licking the spoon after you’ve finished mixing and some helping out at the end.
    6. Sit down and share some food together. Connect and celebrate your cooking! This is the time to be proud of all the hard work and the yummy thing you have created. Also you could share with others or give food as a gift.

    7 Easy Recipes for Cooking with Kids

    Processing cooking with kids is such a fun and rewarding activity! Not only is it a great way to bond as a family, but you can also build self confidence as the develop skills along the way. Here are some easy recipes that are perfect for process cooking with children:

    1. Fruity Bagels – These bagels are such fun to make and eat. We loved getting creative and making beautiful food art! Easy Fruit Rainbow Bagels {with Free Printable Recipe Cards}
    2. Macaroons – This was a bit more of a complex recipe, but using a real coconut was so much fun and the Macaroons tasted so good! – Easy Fresh Coconut Macaroons {Gluten and Dairy Free}
    3. Sandwiches – So simple but kids love this! Offer a range of spreads and show children how to make simple sandwiches. Sandwiches can be cut into triangles, squares, long fingers or use biscuit cutters to make other shapes. Try making Pinwheels, take a piece of bread and cut off the crust. Then roll the bread flat with a rolling pin, top with jam and roll up. Cut in 1 inch sections and turn on there sides to see the spiral shape.
    4. Berry Yogurt – This is a lovely simple recipe, but kids are mesmerised by the colours mixing. Great fun! Put some Greek yogurt in a bowl. Then add berries and mix. Watch how the colours mix in. Add honey on top.
    5. Fruit Platter – This was one of the first cooking sessions we did at home, we loved it so much we took it in and shared it with the other children at Playcentre – Hungry Caterpillar Fruit Platter – Mindful Eating for Kids {Free Printable}
    6. Butter – This is so much fun but I did end up doing a lot of the shaking! Put cream into a clean, large jar. Then shake a lot. This is a good family activity, so you can share the shaking. Eventually the butter milk will separate from the solid butter. Add a pinch of salt to help it keep. Spread on fresh bread and Enjoy!
    7. Easy Peasy Pizza Dough – I love this one, so easy and versatile! Try it here Kids Pizza Dough + Free Recipe Cards

    I hope you enjoy these recipes and getting involved with process cooking with your kids too! Take Care Emma x

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