Playground in the kitchen

Zenoyise Madikwa

Zenoyise Madikwa

For grown-ups, spending time in the kitchen might be a chore, but for children the kitchen is a fun and exciting place.

Amanda Forrest, a nutritionist, says getting your children into the kitchen is a great way to spend time with them.

"It's a wonderful adventure. For one thing, it can help get them get interested in trying foods they might normally ignore and it helps them learn about nutrition and healthy eating."

Forrest advises parents not only to involve children in cooking but in meal planning and shopping.

Psychologist Zanele Magaxa says preparing meals with children helps impart skills that will last them a lifetime and enhance their self-esteem.

"If your child needs a boost of self-confidence, cooking in the kitchen will do just that. They are accomplishing a task, learning something important and contributing to the family. Children learn real lessons in science, language, maths and creativity. Cooking helps reinforce all these subjects."

Before you start, here's a checklist:

l Read the recipe through with your child before you start so you both know what you are doing.

l Clear a workspace and assemble all the equipment and ingredients you will need.

l Depending on your child's age, decide which parts of the recipe your child can safely manage.

l Wash your hands before handling food.

l Carefully measure out what you will need and set the measured ingredients aside.

Safety tips for cooking with children

l Have children stand at the level of the activity. Use a stool if necessary.

l Use cooking supplies that will not break (such as plastic measuring cups and stainless-steel bowls).

l Use plastic knives or butter knives for cutting.

l Provide constant supervision.

l Always watch children when they use knives, mixers, or the stove.

l Supervise the use of ovens, stoves, and other kitchen appliances.