Dusty has been getting really curious about cooking lately; he loves helping out in the kitchen, stirring food and handing over utensils. It’s the cutest thing ever! We’ve even bought him a birch learning tower from Little Big Learning, and he loves it as he can join us in the kitchen whilst we make and cook.
A little while ago, we enjoyed a weekend escape at Conondale Station; it is one of the largest, privately owned, working cattle properties on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in Queensland, Australia. Located on the Mary River, it spans 930 hectares and is home to Maree Duncombe and her herd of over 300 Brahman and Charbray beef cattle.
We knew this getaway would be the perfect excuse to introduce Dusty to cooking outdoors, so we’re excited to show you exactly how easy it was! For our outdoor cooking experience, we used the following gear - gas stove, two pots, utensils, plates, cutlery and mugs. We love making our easy berry chia jam and Dusty eats it by the spoonful, so Jason and I thought this recipe would be perfect for him to learn how to cook outdoors.
Cooking outdoors with kids, whether it’s over an open flame or a gas stove, is no easy feat! They are naturally very curious. So you have to be on your game and make sure they stay safe. But it’s so much fun watching them experience and enjoy new things, especially cooking outdoors. We’ve learned a lot over the last year and thought we would share some tips for cooking outdoors with kids.
INVEST IN GREAT OUTDOOR COOKING GEAR
We are all for investing in the right gear when it comes to camping and outdoor activities; quality reigns supreme in our family. It means we will be able to enjoy our camping gear and outdoor cooking equipment for years to come. The great thing about cooking outdoors with gas, is that you only need a two-stove burner, a pot set, prep and cutlery set, plates and mugs. And best of all? All of the gear we have is super light to carry around. In case you are wanting to know, we bought our gear from Primus Australia.
PLANNING IS KEY
Once you’ve got your gear, our next tip is to start planning your meals. Depending on the age of your kids, get them involved in deciding what you’ll make. Choose kid friendly recipes as it makes the experience more fun for everyone and fosters their creativity. Once you know what you are going to cook, then you need to get shopping. I personally find shopping at Coles without Dusty is much easier, and faster. But of course, you can bring the kids along and get them involved in this part of the planning. Also, having some kid friendly sized utensils is a win, like wooden spoons and tongs. The prep set we used has some great wooden utensils that are perfect for little kids’ hands too.
GET YOUR PREP WORK DONE
We learned the hard way, so make sure you do all of your food prep done before you go camping. Trust me! There is a lot going on when you cook outdoors with kids around, and having your food prepped takes a lot of pressure off the adults. You may not be able to prep everything but do try. Before you go camping, younger kids can help with the easier jobs, such as washing and measuring. And older kids can help with peeling and chopping.
COOKING OVER A FLAME
It’s always best not to involve your kids when lighting a gas stove or making a fire - this one is best left for the adults, with all kids standing at a safe distance. What you can involve them in is choosing a site to cook, collect kindling for a fire, and setting the ingredients aside. The older kids can help dig a pit for a fire and lining it with stones if they want.
EMBRACE THE MESS
Make a mess? Don’t care! I think one of my most favourite aspects of cooking outdoors is the mess, and the fact that we aren’t cooking at home. Having this relaxed attitude makes cooking outdoors so much more enjoyable for everyone. Embrace the mess and let your kids’ creativity shine. It’s only mess after all!
COMING RIGHT UP
Dusty is almost two, so we are getting him to help us set the table and carry his plate from the kitchen to the table - he is so chuffed and loves helping us whilst doing big kid things. We continued this when we were cooking outdoors and got him to help us set the table and help serve food. He’s not very good at the serving part as he’s still so little, but he’s having fun trying. Our tip here is to get the little kids to help set the table (if you have one where you are camping) and get the big kids to help serve everyone.
Tidying and cleaning up after a meal is inevitable. Definitely get all kids to help out where they can. This teaches them the process of what actually goes into cooking outdoors - planning, prepping, making, enjoying and cleaning up. These little life skills learned through cooking outdoors will help their self-sufficiency, encourage responsibility, and foster their creativity and personal growth.
To see the recipe and try your hand at making our easy berry chia jam, head over to this post. And for those wanting to know, the cushions and rug is from my friends store - Hello Trader!