My children love to get involved with creating, making and baking in the kitchen. They really don’t mind what’s on the menu they just like to get in on the stirring and chopping action! I think having confidence in cooking is a great life skill to encourage children to have.
Although personally, I have to force myself to look past the sticky, dripping mess they are creating and remind myself that they are learning important skills which will last a lifetime. It’s not just a gloopy mess that will take ages to scrape off of the floor, and out of their hair, but that they are learning through their exploration of food! Cooking will almost always include the application of maths and science in a very practical way as well as providing the opportunity to practice telling the time. Hopefully, they will be having so much fun it won’t even occur to them that they having a lesson in life!
So, what do you buy a young chef? If you know a child who likes to dabble in a bit of baking, you might find these gift ideas helpful:
1. Le Petit Chef – three-piece knife set
This Petit Chef Kit would make a great gift for a slightly older child. The set includes a finger guard, a peeler and a kitchen knife with a rounded tip and includes an ‘educational ring’ to help position the fingers and prevent the hand from slipping onto the blade. Both the knife and the peeler have stainless steel blades, requiring low maintenance. The safety features will give you peace of mind while allowing children to really get involved in every aspect of the cooking process.
2. Russian Doll Measuring Cups
These Russian Doll Measuring Cups will add a touch of fun to any recipe and will look great on your kitchen shelf or nested neatly inside each other. They accurately measure 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4 and 1 full cup, and are built from food-safe, long-life engineering plastics.
3. Graffiti Cake Mix
This Graffiti Cake Mix can’t fail to impress, a real show stopper! Easy to follow instructions are included. This would make an excellent gift for any creative bakers
4. Personalised Children’s Apron
Be practical but remain stylish with this cute and personalised child’s apron! Choose from rabbit, chicken, mouse, dog, cat, robot or whale for your print on the bottom left corner of the apron. (alternatively, no design can be printed if preferred).
5. Great British Bake Off Colouring Book
While you wait for your cakes to come out of the oven why not relax with a spot of colouring with this creative Great British Bake Off colouring book! Colour your way through 90 beautiful illustrations by the official Bake Off illustrator, Tom Hovey. All your favourite showstoppers and iconic bakes from the show. Would go well with any colourful pack of pens like this WASHABLE Bic selection.
6. Cooking Utensils for small hands
These cooking utensils from The Little Cook Company, are just like the real thing but made to fit small hands. With wooden handles and flexible silicone heads that bend to the curves of plates and bowls to mix, scrape and remove contents easily.
Jenny Chandler's advice for setting your kids off on a cookery course for life
- Get children involved at the planning and shopping stage and allow them to make some choices.
- Choose moments when there is plenty of time to cook, rather than when everyone is stressed and desperate to be fed.
- Encourage kids to hang out in the kitchen as you cook and hand them jobs like shaping falafel, mashing avocados or podding peas.
- Get them to develop one signature dish and practise it until they can cook really confidently.
- Once a child understands how a recipe works, encourage him or her to experiment with new flavours.
- Let kids use proper kitchen tools as soon as they are able, so cooking feels grown-up and cool. By seven, children can use sharp knives safely and efficiently if shown how.
- Set them a challenge of cooking an entire meal and invite friends or family around to enjoy the results. They’ll have a huge sense of achievement.
- Be on hand to keep an eye on tricky tasks like grilling, but try not to interfere too much.
- Try not to stress about the mess: it’s inevitable. Being too military about the entire operation just saps the fun and creativity.
- Make holidays and outings a culinary adventure, gathering wild garlic or buying mussels in a local market. They’ll be more engaged and excited by the food.