Little Cooks, Big BANG! - Five hacks for getting children into cooking

If there’s one thing that life in lockdown has taught families over the last few months, it’s that you can find opportunities to homeschool all over the place. Take cooking for example, roping your kids in can help with their:

  • Maths - Measuring out ingredients.

  • English - Reading out the recipe.

  • Science - Learning how different ingredients change through mixing and heat.

  • Motor skills - Mixing can be pretty trying for little arms!

  • Creativity - The recipe is the springboard but they can choose how to present their creation and what to name it!

  • Independence and self-esteem - Cooking something delicious gives you a boost no matter how old you are.

  • Appetites - Things always taste better when you’ve cooked them yourself and it’s a tried and tested way to get even the fussiest eaters enthusiastic about food.

Total no-brainer right? The only challenge is embracing the fun and sidestepping the stress. Here are five top tips for making it work in your house…

  • Put them in charge.
  • Go through the ingredients you’re going to need and put children in charge of getting them all out ready. Then, if they’re old enough, let your children read the instructions and work out what they mean. The more chances you give them to nail it on their own, the more confident they’ll be as cooks, which is a pretty great life skill. 

  • No need for knives.
  • Small children and big knives are not a good mix. Unless your kids are a little older, you might be keen to try one of these alternatives to chopping:

    • Child-friendly scissors can be used to cut fiddly bits like fresh herbs, spring onions and even tomatoes.
    • Ripping apart ingredients like peppers just using your hands can be really satisfying. 
    • Popping things like garlic or nuts in a bag and smashing them with a rolling pin can do the trick and really use up some energy.

  • Use all 5 senses. 
  • Chat about what you’re doing as you cook. Smelling ingredients, enjoying textures and tasting as you go is what cooking is all about.

  • Sneak in some maths
  • It can feel risky to let children do the weighing and measuring but it’s a cunning way to get them doing maths without realising it. Even something as simple as saying, “let’s use half of these cherry tomatoes” and asking them to get them out of the pack will hone their estimating skills.

  • Tuck in together.
  • A recent YouGov poll found that 62% of parents with children under 28 wished they had family dinners “much more often” or “somewhat more often”. And even when we do make time to eat together, there’s always the temptation to whip through dinner; sixty years ago the average family mealtime lasted 90 minutes, today it’s less than 12 minutes. So, once you’ve cooked together, take time to enjoy your masterpiece as a family. For younger children, you’re their main role model, so seeing you tuck into healthy, exciting food will encourage them to follow your lead. 

    Finally, to help make your culinary adventure a win, these BANG! kits take the guesswork out of spices and are tried and tested family favourites:

    • Warm Moghul: Easy on heat, moreish on flavour, this is the kind of curry that makes family mealtimes a breeze. 

    • Dhaka Dahl: Nutty, comforting and mellow, perfect for stress-free suppers with younger eaters.

    • Bang Bhajis: Crunchy, moreish and always a hit with kids (see picture).