My life dramatically changed last year and it was amazing. I became a Bonus dad which seriously shifted my priorities in cooking and stretched my comfort zone. I thought it would be 10 more years before I would be focusing on cooking with kids and it is now honestly my favorite thing in the world.
Parents, grandparents, and children cooking together in the kitchen, sharing family recipes and secrets passed from one generation to the next, is a lost art in many households across America. These days, some say it’s hard for busy parents to take time out to teach their kids basic cooking techniques and it’s more important to make time now than ever.
My heart melts every time Cheyenne and I are in the kitchen together. Knowing she is learning how to cook and nourish her body while gaining knowledge to make intelligent choices around food is calming. I can’t wait to create gorgeous little children of my own with my beautiful wife. Maybe we will even create a course on cooking with kids growing up. Either way, here are some tips for cooking with kids.
Cooking with Kids
Cooking with kids can be the gift that keeps on giving both to you and your children. Some of the immediate benefits are:
- It encourages kids to try healthy foods.
- Kids feel like they are accomplishing something and contributing to the family.
- Kids are more likely to sit down to a family meal when they helped prepare it.
- Parents get to spend quality time with their kids.
- Kids aren’t spending time in front of the TV or computer while they’re cooking.
- Kids generally aren’t eating junk food when they’re cooking a meal at home.
Some of the long-term benefits are:
- Learning to cook is a skill your children can use for the rest of their lives.
- Kids who learn to eat well may be more likely to eat healthfully as adults.
- Positive cooking experiences can help build self-confidence.
I could write this post to go on for 15 pages, I just want to keep it short for easy readability. If you want me to do a full blown post on every step of cooking with kids, leave me a comment below. I can break it down into age specifics, jobs in the kitchen etc. For now, here are some of our top recommendations:
- Supervisor your child. Always stay in the kitchen with your child until the cooking is completed.
- Plan with your child in advance what you are going to cook. Make a list of all of the ingredients that you will need and shop for them together at the grocery store or find them in your kitchen.
- Choose the right time. Make sure these is plenty of time to cook instead of being rushed and on a tight schedule.
- Make sure your child is well-rested and not “starving.” It will not be an enjoyable experience if your child is tired and cranky. The same is true for adults as well!
- Always wash hands before cooking. This goes for adults, too.
- Create rules about the stove and what not to touch in the kitchen. Give your child (especially younger children) frequent safety reminders while cooking.
- Make it age-appropriate. Preschoolers can pour and stir while school-age children can measure and do simple (supervised) cutting. Even the youngest of children can be given a bowl and wooden spoon and be allowed to pretend to stir.
- Give younger children their own safety utensils. Wooden and plastic utensils are fine for young children while older children can use some adult utensils (while being supervised, of course).
- Build reading skills. Read the cooking directions with your child or let your child read the directions to you.
- Build math skills. Cooking is the perfect time to practice real life math skills such as counting and measuring.
- Take turns. If you are cooking with more than one child, let your children take turns reading directions, measuring, stirring, cutting (if age-appropriate) or give each child specific tasks to complete.
- Introduce your child to new foods. Children are more likely to try new food if they help to prepare it.
- Make cleaning up part of the cooking experience. Even the youngest of children can help clean and put away pots and pans.
- Have fun. Make this a fun experience for your child and yourself!.
- Be sure to compliment your child on a job well done. Also, offer your child the first bite of his/her cooking creation.