Ready, Steady, Cook – how to get your kids into the kitchen

Unless you’re happy for your children to survive on takeaways or beans on toast after they leave home, you need to make sure they know how to cook.

But while new research shows more than 80% of parents think cooking with their kids is important and teaches them a valuable life skill, only 32% of parents cook with their children more than once a month, and 14% admit they never cook with their kids.

As such, the research by Uncle Ben’s ‘Ben’s Beginner’s’ campaign, which aims to inspire families to cook together and increase their confidence in the kitchen, found nearly three-quarters of children aged nine don’t know how to boil an egg, and two fifths are unsure how to peel a potato.

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However, parents failing to teach their kids to cook isn’t quite as simple as them just not bothering to do it, as the Ben’s Beginners Kitchen Confidence study found there were several barriers to parent-child cookery instruction – 41% of parents said they wish they had more time to cook with their children, and 24% said they’d be more inclined to do so if it was less messy.

And as well as time and mess, a quarter of parents said they don’t cook with their kids simply because the children aren’t interested.

However, kids’ cooking expert Fiona Hamilton-Fairley stresses that by not learning to cook, children are missing out on essential life skills which could also lead to unhealthy eating habits later in life.

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”We know the impact that cooking and eating as a family has on health, but we also know the challenges of today’s busy lifestyle and getting kids to be enthusiastic and engaged in the kitchen,” says Hamilton-Fairley, chief executive of The Kids’ Cookery School in London.

“Parents are time-poor, and a lot of them are frightened of the mess, the chaos and the out-of-control moments. And also, there’s a certain amount of danger.

“But one day, those kids are going to have to make something in a kitchen, however old they are, so the earlier they start learning how to do it, the better.”