5 Easy Steps to Invent a Recipe with Kids

Do you like to cooking with kids or do you yearn to cook with your child? Today we’re sharing five easy steps to invent a recipe with kids, which will get you into a creative cooking mindset. Think Master Chef + little kids = a fun afternoon.

But you might wonder, “why would I want to invent a recipe when I can easily follow a recipe?” The answer is that inventing recipes instills children with confidence to invent their own solutions to a problem, encourages independent thinking and problem solving skills, and teaches children how to find their way around a kitchen.

5 easy steps to invent a recipe with kids | TinkerLab

My house smells like pancakes.

Which really means that it smells like cooking oil and caramelized sugar. Sort of a happy, greasy smell that has lingered for days.

Every afternoon, for the past three days, my 3 year old turns into a kitchen alchemist as she gathers ingredients and invents her own recipes.

She is in heaven. And it gets even better once we cook the cakes up and proudly serve them up to hungry family members.

Do you ever give your kids free reign over your kitchen?

Experiments like this set children up with a real-life science experiment that fosters creativity, inventiveness, and problem-solving skills. It’s not for the faint of heart and you have to be okay with a bit of a mess, but I think the trouble is well worth it for the amount of creative confidence it builds in children.

So, after three straight days of wild pancake combinations, I present five lessons learned on how to invent recipes with kids…

Cooking with Kids: Invent a Recipe

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

Lesson #1…Get Familiar with the Kitchen.

If your child doesn’t know where things are, give him a little tour. And start with a simple cooking project that introduces him to some key ingredients and tools for a favorite recipe (such as a mixing bowl, mixing spoon, measuring spoon/cup, flour, and oil).

We spend a lot of time cooking together and my oldest (N) knows her way around the kitchen. She can find the biggest mixing bowl in the house, all the baking ingredients are at kid-level (this will no doubt pose a problem once her little sister figures this out), and we have amazing little foldable step stools like these that give her access to the fridge (unless she wants the butter…but we do have a taller stool for that).

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

Lesson #2…Come up with a General Plan.

In our case, N has been making pancakes, pancakes, and more pancakes. We tend to make a lot of pancakes in our house anyway (they’re not just for the weekends), so she’s super-familiar with the key ingredients and general direction of what might taste good together. For example, she didn’t pour ketchup into the batter (although if she did, I probably would have let it happen).

Do you have a favorite family recipe that you could riff off of? 

To start, she collected a few ingredients (white flour, wheat flour, flax seeds, and blueberries), and added them to the bowl. I tried to step back and allow her to make decisions about quantities, but every now and then I’d throw out a suggestion to help guide the journey.

As you can imagine, her pancake recipe has WAY more than the usual tablespoon of sugar (see the next picture), but it turns out that sugary pancakes are absolutely delicious.

invent a recipe with kids

Lesson #3…Green Light all Ingredients.

Of course you want to be safe about this, as things like raw meat and raw eggs need special handling, but try to keep an open mind as your child selects her ingredients. One of N’s batters had chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, mango juice, dried cranberries and walnuts in it. It was amazing.

The most recent batch contained raspberries, strawberry cream cheese, diced apples, and goat cheese. It was a bit chunky, and I’m not so sure about the goat cheese, but we drafted a recipe in case they end up being the best one yet.

Which bring me to the next lesson…

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

Lesson #4…Write the Recipe Down.

This is validating and makes the whole game so much more fun. As N added ingredients, I tried my best to write them down. Some things were carefully measured and others weren’t, but it didn’t really matter. I’m thrilled to have documentation of her first recipes and I’m sure she’ll treasure them as she gets older.

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

Lesson #5…Embrace a Good Experiment.

As we cooked, I repeated multiple times that this is a grand experiment and that we’d be surprised one way or the other. We chatted about how it’s possible that not one person has ever made this exact recipe, and that chefs go through a similar process when they invent something new. Like scientists, they hypothesize (what ingredients might taste good together?), they experiment (let’s make this batter with yogurt and the next with sour cream), and they test (how does it taste? which batch do we like better? why?).

How to Invent a Recipe with Kids | TinkerLab

After one of our cooking sessions, my husband took the kids off on a run in the stroller. These two hot cakes were eaten before they left the driveway, which I suppose speaks to how delicious they came out.

How do you involve your kids in the kitchen? Have you tried letting them loose with ingredients? How did it go?

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    I’m tearing up Rachelle.  What a wonderful post!  I let my kids have at it almost everywhere in the house.  (um with boundaries).  The kitchen is the one place I rarely let them create. :( I don’t experiment in the kitchen… I can cook but I am a recipe follower.  My husband, however, is an awesome cook.  He invents food that makes my mouth water (we rarely eat out because his food is better.) ;)  I want my kids to be like that.  I am going to email this to him… only problem is he does not love a mess.  Maybe we’ll work as a team. (Messes are usually my domain.)

    • Rachelle says

      I’m sorry to hear that this brought tears to your eyes (not my intent!), but I know YOU, and I know you’re doing amazing things to bolster creative confidence in your children. This is just one more place to do this. However, with your husband’s mad creative cooking skills, your kids are lucky to be on a good path toward cooking brilliance. My own cooking abilities sort of suck, but I happen to love experimenting in the kitchen, and about half of what I make is really good. I like your plan to team up in the kitchen. Keep me posted!

      • Anonymous says

        Hee Hee… it was a good tearing up!  As in you are awesome… and I think this will be a wonderful addition to our family fun.  (Plus I cry at touching cartoons… so you know. ;) )  Thanks for the compliment and I will most definitely keep you posted… Hubs promised to read “Tinkerlab” this morning.

  2. MassachusEATS says

    I absolutely love this article! More people need to let kids explore in the kitchen because it truly does foster so many important skills and bolsters great confidence. I got my 1st cookbook when I was around 5 or 6 and, after a few safety lessons (about eggs, the oven, knives, etc) and a couple “cook alongs,” my parents allowed me to cook away.  I’m still passionate about cooking to this day :)

    • Rachelle says

      Thanks, MassachusEATS. I love your name!! It’s helpful to know that 5 or 6 is a good age for independent cooking. I can’t wait for my kids to take over dinner duties (or maybe I’m being a little too ambitious?). 

  3. Danielle says

    i’m terrified and excited at the same time. N loves order and is thoughtful with her movements. Simone lives for flying flour and goopy sloppy icky silly stuff. But i will not let my fears get to me. And the fatigue of the hour long clean up. Which leads me to my question? Is N responsible for clean up?

    • Rachelle says

      Hey Danielle! So this experiment will look entirely different in your home, won’t it?! Prepare yourself with a handful of towels and a recipe that includes chopping salad rather than scooping flour ;) And oh-my-goodness, how I wish N would clean up after herself. We’re working on this, but she’s so resistant! And at 3 and a half, I’m not sure how much real clean up she’s truly be capable of. I have little sponges and rags for the kids to “clean up” with, but they’re terrible at it this job! Any tips?

  4. Shannon Hillinger says

    I just did this on Monday. Sadly, I haven’t been very patient in the kitchen up till now, so she had no idea what it takes to make anything. Her first attempt at a quick bread involved relish (because it’s sweet!). After that didn’t turn out right, I suggested we look at a recipe. Hopefully soon she can try experimenting with actual knowledge.

    • Rachelle says

      Mmmm, relish in quick bread, I can only imagine! After working through all our crazy recipes this week, I have to say that even when the recipe turns out terrible, it’s still worth the effort. It’s like making art with kids — the process is so much more important than the product. Food is obviously a little different than art. We don’t want to waste food and we have an expectation that if we make something, we will get to eat it. And it will taste delicious. But with something like this, we’re also building future kitchen chefs and creative thinkers, so the process can be celebrated for its own merits. Either way, thanks for sharing your experience Shannon!

  5. says

    I haven’t let my son have this much free reign in the kitchen but it reminds me a little of when we go to the frozen yogurt place around the corner from our house.  There is a wide array of toppings from the traditional fruit and chocolates to candy, cereal, and syrups.  I let him choose whatever he wants for toppings so he can decide for himself if peanut butter flavored frozen yogurt tastes good with gummy worms, strawberries, and cookies!

  6. Kelly at Little Wonders' Days says

    My mom used to let me do this and I’ve forgotten all about it!  Thanks for the great tutorial and ideas.  I’m going to try this with my kiddos.

  7. says

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I
    to find It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot.

    I hope to provide something again and aid others like you aided me.

    I’m positive all of you here play Team Fortress 2, or else
    you wouldn’t be here! I also enjoy TF2, and 1 factor that I couldn’t get
    my head around was accumulating all the objects!! I’v observed some players cant even gather
    most of the items, in no way mind ALL of them!! I was
    devoted to obtaining all the products, but it seemed
    impossible, so being an knowledgeable programmer, I acquired to function!

    Following hours of difficult work I produced, what I say 1 of the very best hacks out there!

    (biased a lot?!) The instrument that I have designed permits you to unlock any of the products you would like in TF2!

    I’ts easy really…
    I was arranging to promote this resource and permit some funds start
    off rolling in, but i know the sensation of not getting ready to afford it,
    or becoming a ‘poor’ man on TF2, so I have made the decision to give this out for
    totally free to see what folks believe of it! Just study the tutorial
    under outlining how to obtain and use the device!

  8. says

    The only place I could make messes growing up, was at my Grandmothers house. This brings warm feelings to my heart remembering all the crazy experiments I made on my own in her kitchen growing up…I mean experiments, not recipes though LOL! I used to grab the kitchen chairs & a few big bowls pretending I was a chef (never turning the oven on) mixing up the best batches of gloop! It was SOO much fun! I still am NO BAKER but, K do love to cook food (not deserts or playdough, I’m still working on that one)!!! I enjoy watching my youngster in the kitchen doing the same. I set aside a Saturday (cold winter one) & we do it TOGETHER!! It’s SOO much fun!

  9. says

    Hello! I know this is kinda off topic but I
    was wondering if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble
    finding one? Thanks a lot!

  10. says

    Is the amount of sleep you get from popping these drugs into your
    mouth really worth the hard-earned money you spend on it.
    Traditional liposuction has been replaced by more modern and safe methods of liposuction,
    due to refined products, instruments, techniques
    and technologies that make surgery outcomes more precise. Kori and Everhart can provide the best treatment plan for snoring
    problems and sleep apnea to help patients and their loved
    ones to enjoy a good night’s sleep once and for
    all.

  11. says

    The 712M would not appear at Round Four of the 1972 season, held at
    Mid-Ohio, but would be present for Round Five run at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
    One series however was not intimidated by Italy’s best. Acura NSX (1990-2005) Mazda RX7 (1993-1995) Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 (1990-1999)
    Nissan 300ZX TT (1990-1996) Toyota Supra Turbo (1993.

  12. says

    I used to be recommended this blog through my cousin.
    I am not sure whether or not this post is written
    by way of him as nobody else recognise such particular approximately my problem.
    You’re amazing! Thank you!

  13. says

    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more
    pleasant for me to come here and visit more often.

    Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Excellent work!

  14. says

    Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve have in mind your stuff
    previous to and you’re just too great. I actually like
    what you’ve received right here, certainly like what you’re stating and the best way in which
    you are saying it. You’re making it entertaining and you continue to care for to keep it sensible.

    I cant wait to learn far more from you. That is actually a great site.

  15. says

    Så vi kommer att börja med en dragning och sedan en dubblett biljett skulle ges till dig av kasino återförsäljare.

    När du spelar casino roulette freespins på nätet, kommer
    du att tilldelas på måndag den 29 juli 2013. I den här videon,
    vi kommer att gå riktigt lågt, börjar öppna våra axlar, och när vi kan se att
    med en annan vinkel, och det ser ut så här. I den här guiden kommer vi att
    gå över spins.

  16. says

    Do you have a spam issue on this blog; I also am a blogger,
    and I was curious about your situation; many of us have developed some nice
    methods and we are looking to swap solutions with other folks, why not shoot me an email
    if interested.

  17. says

    We’re toning down that AP ratio, it’s still league of legends hacks really strong.
    If you can, combine your Roll-Taunt-Mega Fart into a combo and
    the poir fuckabishes will never call or instalock bot
    lane riles anymore. Alright, let’s move on to Udyr. Xerath’s harass gets even stronger once you learn it, it can keep almost any melee champion from reaching
    Vel’Koz.

  18. MandyG says

    My 7 year old loves to make chicken soup. She delights in pouring out a box of chicken broth and then experimenting with chicken and veggies and pasta….but the real fun comes from the herb and spice drawer. We had one disaster with six herbs…three pairs of which were entirely incompatible…but the other times have been good. She likes to have me turn my back while she adds a Secret Ingredient (once it was cinnamon sugar!)

  19. says

    Camping is a special time for anyone, irrespective of how many times they have dopne this.
    Cross trrain to improve your lower body strength
    and balance which is essential for a great kick
    boxing bag workout. Messh filter bag utilizes the well proven mechanism of
    surface filtration and are suitqble iin removing large solid
    elements from the flow of liquid.

  20. says

    The power connection provided is for continuing your power supply past the balun by using one pair of
    wires from the Cat5E cable. The Madisons: We’ll walk to
    the store and buy a paper and bring it back to the RV to read.
    Selling the TV station is the same as any business.

  21. says

    Hi, all the time i used to check website posts here in the early
    hours in the dawn, since i enjoy to learn more and
    more.

  22. says

    Usually I do not read post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to
    check out and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me.
    Thank you, quite great article.

  23. says

    You can know more about them online and take their help.
    Some firms charge depending on the mileage covered. On July 1st, 1923, the Canadian government enacted the Chinese Immigration Act, stopping all immigration from China.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *