Teaching children to cook

I’ve always loved getting my daughter involved in the kitchen.  One of the joys of having little kids is the baking that you get to do.  That and all of the fairy cakes that you get to eat.  Since she was very young we have been mixing up sweet treats.  We make ace cookies and muffins.  As an aside (and to counteract any smug mumminess you might be sensing) it is a whole different story with Sam and Leo!  They cause utter baking related chaos.  It isn’t because they are boys, it is more because they are messy buggers.  They always find something to squabble about.  They are also on a mission to eat everything before it even gets in the bowl.    

I had a bit of a light bulb moment recently when I realised I should teach Sofia to cook proper meals as well.  I’ll do the same with the boys when they are older and less unruly!  After all no one can live on biscuits and cakes alone.  I want to send Sofia off out into the world knowing how to whip up some good basic dishes.  I am quite grateful that when I went to uni I had an idea how to feed myself.  Former uni housemates feel free to call me out on this (there were days when it was all about canned tuna and toast)!    

How has it taken me so long to think of this?!  

I have been having loads of fun getting Sofia to help make dinner with me.  I’ve also realised that there are different skills for Sofia to learn that she wouldn’t come across doing baking – like using a knife and a hand blender.  I can see that Sofia feels quite proud of herself when we serve up a meal that she has helped to make.  

kids cooking

The most useful thing that I’ve taught my daughter to make is a really simple tomato sauce.  We make this at least once a week in our house (usually more).  This sauce is great just with plain pasta and cheese, for spaghetti and meatballs and for tortellini.  I also like to add chilli flakes and grilled prawns and spaghetti to make a more grown up dinner.  


  • Two tablespoons of olive oil
  • Generous teaspoon of dried oregano
  • Couple of cloves of garlic, crushed (or a generous squeeze of garlic paste)
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Level teaspoon of sugar (this is just to counteract any sharpness in the canned tomatoes) 


  1. Put the olive oil in a pan with a medium heat
  2. Saute the crushed garlic (or add the garlic paste)
  3. Add the oregano, tomatoes and sugar
  4. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until it reduces down a bit
  5. Blitz with a hand blender to get a nice smooth sauce (I think the blitzing is the key to turning this into a nice sauce).

It’s so simple an 8 year old can mater this!

Are you teaching your kids to cook?  I’d love to know any simple recipes that work with your children.  

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