The 10 kids cooking projects you should be doing this school holiday

When the school gates shut, it can be hard to work out how to keep all that young energy channeled. Go gourmet and encourage children to join you in the kitchen to cook up some magic and learn some key skills along the way.

The 10 kids cooking projects you should be doing this half term

We’re strong advocates of teaching cookery skills from a young age, but beyond learning the way around an onion, there are lots for simple skills kids can help with that can then be applied to day to day life. We’ve picked ten simple cooking projects to work on with kids, all of which will help instill an everyday skill while providing a few hours of fun.

10 things to do in the kitchen this half term…

Keep maths skills on course

Easy meatballsAny recipe that involves dividing a batch into balls, buns or portions is a way of incorporating mathematics into cooking. Making, counting and dividing, for instance, mincemeat into meatballs allows you to discuss the splitting process, especially if you ask questions as you go. They’ll be so blissfully knee-deep in beef they’ll barely notice the education factor.

Easy meatballs
Chocolate chip buns


Create thrifty packed lunches for days out

While on the hoof, it can be tempting to cave into buying expensive, and sometimes unhealthy, meals or snacks – especially when you factor in pester power. Avoid the situation by creating a tasty packed lunch before you go out, but involve your kids in the selection process. Dishes like roasted chicken legs, homemade pasties or samosas and tasty rice salads are all child-friendly choices. If you have a picky eater on your hands, lay out ingredients for pasta salad and let them assemble their own in an individual pot, which is a good way to introduce them to the idea of portion control and flavour matching.

Sticky chicken drumsticks
Sweet potato & pea puffs
Help-yourself tuna rice salad
Pizza pasta salad jars


Open your own jewellers for the day

Who needs diamonds when you can string fruit laces around your neck? We might not be talking the next movement in fashion, but edible necklaces are fun to create and can be delicious, although if you really want to let creative freedom run riot, you may end up with some strange flavour combinations. Use liquorice strings or fruit laces and string with one or several of the following: Hooped cereal, pierced popcorn, grapes, mini marshmallows, gummy bears or dried apricots.


Throw a pizza party

Holiday pizzasKids generally like pizza. They also tend to like parties, so combine the two and you’re heading for a gold star or ten. Throwing a pizza party for kids is super-easy as dough can be divided into individual portions and toppings laid out in bowls. There’s also a chance to weave in some kitchen skills – encourage little ones to knead and roll out their own base, and ask them to help with sauce-making and spooning it onto the base.

Holiday pizzas


Encourage 5-a-day in a fun way

Get those little cogs whirring by creating a fun fruit memory game. Lay out an assortment of fruit like strawberries, banana slices, apricots, berries, grapes or cherry tomatoes then hide a portion of each under paper cups. Make a note of the fruits used, shuffle around the cups then guess which ones are hiding the matching fruit, working down the list and eating the fruits when the answer is correct.


Experiment with new flavours

Children are perhaps more likely to try something new if they’ve had a hand in creating the meal. So with time on your side, set aside a long session to make the family dinner, involving kids at each stage, from explaining ingredients to plating up. Use it as an opportunity to talk through more unusual flavours, like spices, deeply savoury ingredients and unfamiliar additions. 

Kids cooking recipes


Try pastry art

fruit plaitOnce a block of shop-bought pastry has been rolled flat into a thin layer, it has almost paper-like potential for sparking some mini Monet action. Long strips can be twisted into straws, interesting pockets and parcels can be created around filling, and strands can be threaded into one big plait.

Fruit plait
Sausage plait

Roast a chicken…

The beauty of roast chicken is in its simplicity – minimum effort, maximum gain. But there are ways of making the process into a family cooking project. Children can help prepare vegetables to pile around the chicken, then test the chicken is cooked, help create a sauce and watch how the bird is carved. It’s also a good way for them to get their heads around how an oven works, including how hot it can get.

Really easy roast chicken


… Then use the leftovers

Buy an extra-large chicken – or pick up two smaller ones – and save any extra meat for meals during the half term week, meaning you’ll always have a speedy meal on hand. Try five-minute wraps, 15-minute egg-fried rice or snappy Mexican tortilla snacks.

Chicken wrap with sticky sweet potato
Chicken & sweetcorn egg-fried rice
Salsa chicken & cheese tortillas

Host a chemistry lesson

Instant ice creamYou don’t need to be Heston Blumenthal to introduce science into the kitchen. Making bread is an ideal way to explain to children how yeast is activated – shake in a sachet and watch your dough grow. If you really want to ramp up the wonderment, try making an instant ice cream, which uses a secret ingredient to guarantee super-cool results in a flash...

Pizza rolls
Instant ice cream

 

For more child-friendly recipes, advice on cooking for families and school holiday projects, visit our Family section. We'd like to hear your ideas for simple, fun projects too... 

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