Kids are cooks too!
It's easy to overlook kids when it comes to cooking and mealtime. Sometimes we're in a hurry or we just want to get to the part where we sit down and eat.
A few minutes of your time can turn into a complete cooking education for your kids. It can be a fun, bonding moment for you and believe it or not it can actually make the meal preparation time go faster.
An added benefit is that as your kids get older they'll be able to make the whole meal without your help, so you can let them cook at least one night a week!
(the photo here is my oldest son Dylan shopping for his favorite veggies at The Fresh Market)
Simple Tasks for Kids in the Kitchen!!
even the little things matter...
When first starting to get your kids involved in making meals and preparing food it's probably best to start small. They need to learn starting at the beginning. Don't expect them to be able to cook a 7 course meal from scratch on the very first day.
Gather the ingredients. You can't make much of anything without your list of ingredients, read
Stirring and mixing are usually among the first things kids learn to do in the kitchen. Get out the big wooden spoons and mixing bowls and let them mix the potato salad, macaroni and cheese, cake batter, whatever it is that needs stirring tonight.
Measuring generally comes next. Plastic measuring cups with big easy to read numbers are helpful here. Remember to show them how to get an accurate measurement by placing the cup on the aloud what you need and let your child find it and line it up on the counter to get started.
(the photo here at the right is my youngest son Ethan picking spices one night, adding the seasoning is his favorite step)counter and looking at eye level. What's funny here is that kids actually measure more accurately than adults pretty often when measuring in this way!
Cut it up! If you're child is much younger and not ready to handle a knife yet they can still get involved with the cutting up of ingredients. Get out the rolling pizza cutter and a cutting board and let them make rolling cuts. They'll feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride for helping in this way.
Cool Tools Made for Kids in the Kitchen
Having a properly sized knife with safety features for younger kids make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Learning knife skills early on is an important part of kids kitchen safety. You'll find that they learn fast and they really enjoy being able to prep their own snacks once they've learned to use the knives.
the best time to get the kids involved
Getting the kids involved at snack time will keep them away from the junk food and making healthy choices while having a little bit of fun too.
Cooking and food preparation doesn't have to involved the stove all the time after all. Let them make a vegetable tray with dip, a simple fruit salad, ants on a log, lunch meat snack wrap ups and all sorts of other great snacks that can be easily prepared.
When young kids are encouraged to take part in preparing a meal for the entire family it gives them a sense of belonging. Completing small tasks helps them feel accomplishment at something important. That sense of belonging and accomplishment in helping can do wonders for a child's self esteem at any age.
Cooking Has No Boundaries
Kids Don't Think That Way Unless Someone Tells Them To
By not identifying cooking to one person’s role in the family, it allows a child to develop in a manner that does not identify certain tasks to certain genders. Wanting a child to see the two sexes as equal is supported by living examples the simple task of daily cooking. A child will quickly start to understand that the household chores are to be shared with everyone in the household, which can further develop into the understanding that there is no limit to what he or she can do in life with no dependence on his or her sex. And that's a great thing.
It Even Helps with School and Learning Things Quickly
A child learning to assist with cooking the family meal can also be a learning experience in math and reading, which are the two most critical educational contents in today’s world. Showing a child how much a cup of flour is, how to double the recipe, or even how to adjust cooking times for certain meals teaches a child the basics in math.
Having the child read a recipe along with following the steps of the recipe teaches reading, comprehension, and sequential importance. These are all important aspects needed to allow a child to read at or above his or her grade level.
Great Kids Cookbooks
This is my youngest son's favorite cookbook! I think he's made almost every recipe in it now. (and in turn we've eaten them)