Kids in the Kitchen: Helpful Tips
Getting my kids into the kitchen with me has been something that I always wanted them to WANT TO DO.. OR something that I want to teach them to enjoy. Find an appreciation for the preparation of things along with teaching them where ingredients come from and how they are made.
Maybe it starts with boiling water for pasta..then pouring it into the pot and then stirring the cheese with the pasta. We all need to start somewhere and if they aren't asked to join in, will they ever learn?
Here is what has worked for me...and continues to work.
Oh boy, do I really want to have my kids in the kitchen with me?
First of all, take a deep breath and take a dose of patience. The way you normally cook won't be the same when kids are involved in making it with you. It will take more time, it will be messier and there might be some blood and tears.
It's all about the process. Getting them interested in food and the making of meals is the first step. You are looking to make a Professional Chef in them overnight...so take baby steps.
Easy things they can do at first:
*Measuring flour, sugar, salt
*Counting blueberries or chocolate chips
*Licking the spoons
*Stirring batter or dressing
At the very least, have them sit on the counter while you work away. They will ask questions about what you are doing, how you make such and such and maybe want to "help" the next time around.
Again, don't forget to breath
Have them pick out the recipe.
Recently I asked my 7 year old to look through a cookbook and pick out somethings that looked good to her. She came back with 2 recipes - out of 125...well, it's a good start.
We ended up making one of the dishes for the meal the day before Thanksgiving. She loved knowing that she picked it out. She even helped me add in some of the ingredients, watch it in the oven and get plates for everyone.
Gift them their own kids cookbook.
Here are some that we have and my two girls have really enjoyed looking through them. They get excited when they see things they like or have already eaten - "hey, that would be easy to make myself".
I mean her last name is COOK! The pictures and instructions are perfect for many ages.
Turning fruit into flowers,
There are cute labels, place cards, stickers and recipe cards at the end. Such a clever idea for kids to personalize their creations.
I think that baking is a great way to first introduce kids to cooking. Measuring is always fun and rewarding along with watching everything combine in the stand mixer. PLUS the finished product is usually kid approved! Charity Mathews' book Super Simple Baking for Kids: Learn to Bake with over 55 Easy Recipes for Cookies, Muffins, Cupcakes and More! Charity Mathews' book has great 1,2,3 step instructions, basic principles for safety and skills in the kitchen.
Plus her photos are amazing - gosh, I want to bake everything in the book.
My older daughter will try anything. She has said several times that she "love cooking and its fun". So since she is now a "foodie" she needed this Kid Chef book!
She rarely orders off the kids menu at restaurants and is always up to try new flavors. Melina Hammer's Kid Chef: The Foodie Kids Cookbook: Healthy Recipes and Culinary Skills for the New Cook in the Kitchen is a great cookbook for a little older chef in training.
I've always been a fan of the America's Test Kitchen. I own one of their cookbooks so I knew that this one would be a great addition to our children's cookbook collections.
The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs won Amazon's best book of 2018. Not only is it full of great recipes, the knowledge it drops on you (and your kids) is so useful!
Ask them to taste test.
I mean who doesn't like to taste test? Whether its to see if the pasta is done or if something needs more salt or cheese. Taste away!
Get them some gear, of their own!
A personalize apron that they can call their own, along with a step stool or chair that is just used for in the kitchen. It will make them feel included and more like you.
Here are some great kitchen items that are KID friendly.
Simple ways to get them involved.
Ask them to help you with...
*Separate broccoli florets
*Husking the corn
*Add canned items to the pot
*Put the blueberries on the pancakes
*Add butter or oil to the pan
*Cut up vegetables with a small paring knife
*Adding grated cheese to the dish
*Taking the ends off of mushrooms
"What age should I start with involving my kids in the kitchen?"
It also depends on the interest in the kids. I would say around 5, when they have better dexterity with their hands and good hand eye coordination. Give them a vegetable peeler, small pairing knife, grater, spoon or spatula. Heck, a fork and some eggs. Get them mixing.
For 2-4 years old children maybe start with them sitting on the counter to watch and do simple things, like stirring.
**This post is meant for kids 4 years and older.