Cooking Up Joy with Kids
If you follow any of our Socials, get our newsletter or pop here regularly (hello!), you’ll know that this month at Biona we’re putting our heads and hearts together (albeit from our own homes) to bring you all the tips, ideas and comfort we can.
We See You, Families
Today we’re thinking about all the families out there. All the children who are used to a weekly rhythm that includes school, friends and lots of being out and about; and the parents and carers who are trying to hold space for them through this mammoth change to that rhythm – all while maintaining their own wellbeing. We see you. We know how hard it can be to find joy in your interactions when you’re with each other all the time.
Grown-ups, when it feels like the day is dragging, try to acknowledge this mindfully and realise: now is the moment to switch things up and create some joy.
That might sound easier said than done. Well, we have some ideas for you to refer to if so! For us, the first place we go if we’re looking to create joy is the kitchen.
Kids in the Kitchen
We know that for some, the idea of cooking with kids is enough to bring that stress response up, rather than down. It’s okay to feel daunted, but we promise that with a few tricks and a bit of prep this can be fun!
Top Tips for Harmonious Family Cooking:
Never cook when hungry
We wouldn’t recommend choosing just before a meal-time to start a new baking project. If you don’t know the portmanteau ‘hangry’, you’ll definitely at least know the feeling! Hungry often = irritable, which isn’t a great starting point.
Consider where to set up the kids’ workstation. You want to be as far away from hazards - such as the hob and knife rack - as possible, to keep risks and stress to a minimum. Smaller tots will need something safe to stand on!
Clean and tidy
Your kids are probably hand-washing pros by now! We love the ‘I can cook’ song to help instil the handwashing habit before cooking. An apron each is ideal, but old shirts protect clothes well too – you don’t want to be worrying about their clothes getting ruined. Line the workstation with newspapers or an oilcloth/waterproof tablecloth if you have one.
Involve them at every stage
From choosing the recipe to washing up, your kids will relish the responsibility and learn the foundations for cooking by themselves later in life.
If you have more than one small person, make sure they know from the start that everyone is going to take turns to keep things fair. Stick to the turn rotation and you’re far less likely to have rows break out.
Heap on the praise
Keep things light-hearted and heap on praise and encouragement. There are lots of new skills for little ones in cooking, so patience is key. Which brings us to…
There will be mess! Acknowledge and accept it 😊
You can try to reduce it, by giving extra large bowls for mixing etc, but if you go in to this accepting that it’ll be messy, it’s less likely to stress you out. Assign achievable clean-up tasks appropriate to your kids’ ages: even small children can wash up with supervision, and older ones can help wipe down surfaces, dry up and put things away.
Find kid-friendly recipes, and enjoy!
There are lots of resources online for parents looking to cook with their families and a plethora of great recipes that are suitable for trying at home with children. Here are some of ours:
Pesto pasta is surely a gift from the food gods to those with picky eaters at home. We know they like to eat it, now they can learn to make it with this great, protein-rich twist on the classic.
More peas, because they’re such versatile, nutritious and delicious little morsels! This is a really simple snack to whip up with kids (NB it requires a food processor or blender) and so good for them! You could supervise younger kids to cut up pitta breads with a butter knife for dipping, and older ones with a sharper knife to make crudité for dipping.
This delicious jackfruit-topped pizza will please kids and grown-ups alike! Making pizza dough is an activity in itself (try this recipe) but you could buy in bases if you want to shorten the prep time on this one.
This moreish chocolatey dessert slice needs no introduction. Our recipe keeps it simple and switches out traditional ingredients for nutrient packed cacao, dates and granola.
If you don’t have a food processor (or even if you do) you can get the kids even more hands on in mashing the bananas with a fork and doing some super-mixing!
These super simple cookies have everything a cookie should, plus protein! The perfect afternoon bake.
If you’re all cooked out, there are plenty of other ways to create pockets of joy in your family day. Moving together always helps ease tension; check out Cosmic Kids Yoga for brilliant, free themed sessions you can all enjoy. Storytime is a lovely way to connect, and there are lots of authors reading their own stories for kids in lockdown right now too – try the amazing Oliver Jeffers on Instagram.