Learning to make food for oneself is important. To develop the interest for cooking in children, let them start with simple dishes that can be prepared without fire. You can also help by arranging certain basic things that require the use of fire or knives and then let the children take over. Here are some recipes which children can try out in their free time.
This is the most wholesome food a child can prepare. It can be as simple as applying butter, jam, cheese or sauce in between bread slices. Sprinkling a little sugar on the butter spread makes it different.
A lot of things can be put in sandwiches like thinly cut slices of boiled eggs, paneer (cottage cheese) or potatoes, cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce etc. The boiling and cutting part, the parents can do, and then leave the children to apply, butter or mayonnaise, cheese, vegetables, eggs whatever they like.
Lemonade and Other Drinks
Children love fruit squash and drinks like Glucon-D, Milk shakes etc. They demand these things often during summers. So why not let them prepare these themselves. It only requires putting the syrup, pouring water or milk over it and stirring.
Condense the milk and then let the kids take over. Ready made condensed milk can also by bought. Let them select fruits and raisins they want to use. Cut them into small pieces (cut them beforehand for small children), mix sugar and flavours to the milk and add the fruit pieces.
This simply involves cutting a variety of fruits and mixing them together with chaat masala.
Boondi raita is the simplest of all raitas. Beat the curd, mix salt, sugar, pepper well into it and put the boondis. Vegetables like grated or small pieces of cucumber, tomato pieces, boiled potato pieces, cherries can also be added.
Mix Parmal (puffed rice) with sev/bhujiya/namkeen (salted) mixture of any kind. It is tasty in this very simple form. To make it tastier add a little mustard oil, chopped onion, small pieces of tomato and boiled potato, fried green peas and peanuts and a little chaat masala. Some like to mix tamarind water too.
Dip bread slices in sugar syrup and take them out immediately. Put it in your palm along with small pieces of almond, raisins, cashewnuts etc. Crush them together to drain out excess liquid and mix. Then shape them into small balls. Roll these balls on grated coconut or chocolate.
Chocolate Biscuit Balls
Grind Marie biscuits in a grinder. Transfer the powder to a ball and add condensed milk and cocoa powder or drinking chocolate. Grated chocolates can also be used. Mix well and give shapes.
The basic ingredients like pizza base, sauce, cheese are available in the market. We just have to apply the sauce and spread small cut pieces of vegetables like tomato, onion, capsicum and lots of cheese. Keep it in the oven for one or two minutes and home made pizza is ready.
Prepare the roti or plain paratha and let the children decide what they want to put inside and roll. They can choose to apply sauce, jam, butter, mayonnaise or cheese on the roti and then just like the sandwich place cut vegetables like cucumber, carrot, onion, tomato, paneer or even Gajar (carrot) halwa or condensed milk!
Salted biscuits in round or square shapes (like Monaco etc.) can be served in quite interesting ways by adding different toppings to them. It looks quite yummy when you simply place a cheese slice on the biscuit, followed by a little tomato sauce or any green sauce (mint or coriander chutney) at the center of the cheese slice and then a red cherry on top. The combination of yellow biscuit, white cheese, green sauce and red cherry makes it look as well as taste good.
Children can also be asked to decorate the food you have prepared. For example, they can sprinkle in different patterns, different colored spices like pepper, red chilli powder, coriander leaves etc on raita, soup or other veg, non-veg dishes. You can cut vegetables for salad and ask the child to arrange it nicely on the plate. Cake decoration, salad decoration, mocktails etc. create interest in cooking activities. Even laying out the table aesthetically adds to the whole experience of cooking, serving and having a meal.
Children enjoy doing things by themselves. Let them indulge in simple cooking, even if your kitchen gets messed initially. Once they have prepared the main food, teach them to present it aesthetically before serving. Place the food in a nice plate or bowl and decorate it with lettuce leaves, salad etc. to make it more appealing. Kids will love to see their efforts being presented so beautifully and may come up with better ideas the next time!