One of our yearly goals for 2012 was to involve our toddler in cooking in the kitchen with us more often.
Teaching kids how to cook early is a life skill that will serve them well their entire lives. The sooner they know how to cook for themselves (and others), the sooner they learn to become independent (and the sooner you can get some help with cooking!).
Of course, it’s not always easy. Sometimes your kids won’t want to cook with you. Sometimes you will be in a hurry and won’t want them in your way.
But when you do have those, “let’s make something together” moments, grab them by the horns and get cooking. You will never regret it.
Benefits to involving kids in the kitchen:
- Have fussy eaters? Kids are more likely to eat something when they’ve helped to prepare it.
- Involving your kids in food preparation is a great way to get them to develop an appreciation for food and cooking.
1. Make them a sous chef
Kids love to help. Especially young kids. With a bit of guidance, many children can help with washing vegetables, cracking eggs, measuring & stirring ingredients, and crumbling toppings.
You can also have your kids set out dishes on the kitchen table, bring you ingredients from the pantry or refrigerator and load dirty dishes into the dishwasher (or remove clean ones).
2. Make it fun
No child is going to want to do something if it seems like work, so make sure that whatever they are helping you with, is fun.
Make it a game and make it educational. Who can roll the smoothest dough? Who can find the basil for the homemade pasta sauce? Teach them why you need to add baking soda to cake mix and what happens to yeast when you add warm water to it.
Relax, don’t rush, and make it fun!
3. Ignore the mess
This was a big issue for me when I first started allowing Elliott in the kitchen with me. I always follow the “clean up as you go” rule whenever I am cooking, and this is near impossible when I have a little one working with me – the are just too many messes to battle at one time!
If you have this problem, try to ignore it. Clean the mess later. Teaching your child learn to cook and help in the kitchen is much more rewarding than clean countertops and an empty sink. I promise.
4. Make mini’s
Instead of whipping up a big pan of lasagna, or a large pizza, consider making mini versions instead. Spinach lasagna rolls and mini pizzas on english muffins are much more fun when they are child-size!
If you can make it into a mini – do it. Kids love to eat things that are smaller than the norm.
Involving your kids in the kitchen is not only educational, but it’s also extremely important if want them to learn how to prepare whole, nutritious foods (and who doesn’t want that for their kids?).
It’s never too early for a child to learn – and this includes learning how to cook and clean in the kitchen. Let them help!