My kids are amazing cooks. My daughter is very famous for going into the kitchen and making whatever she is in the mood for. This could be anything from pancakes to a full dinner depending on the day. I was talking to a blogging friend recently who seemed shocked that I let my kids cook. Other friends were surprised to hear that my 7-year-old cooks on the stove top. I never really thought about doing it any other way, to be honest. That said, I wanted to share some tips for trusting kids in the kitchen. Your child can cook if you give them some basic tips and skills.
Trusting Kids in the Kitchen
My kids have been cooking to some extent since they were very small. I wanted them to know where food comes from and how to cook their own. Getting in the kitchen is also great for teaching Math skills and reading comprehension. They are given a recipe with measurements and they have to follow through. Let me share some tips to help you get your kids cooking. They will thank you for it when they move out and have to cook something other than ramen noodles.
Have a Safety Talk
We made sure to spend some time discussing the safety of each tool I have let them use. We talked about safe knife holding, protecting your hands from a hot stove, and much more. Take some time to work through what items are hot and which items can hurt them. Show them how to safely hold a knife, turn on and off the stove, carry a pot, and prevent bacteria spreading.
We talked about how certain foods can contaminate the surfaces they are prepared on. I taught them how to clean their workspace and how to wash their hands. This made it easy to let them work with meat and eggs because I knew they were being careful with the items they were handling. Make sure to explain this to your child when you start working with them.
Teach by Letting them Do
As a mom, there are things I just do to get them done. Sometimes I will hurry through and tell my kids instead of letting them get hands on. I have found that they will learn more if I have them slow down and do the cooking instead of me. This may make messes. It may even take twice as long. However, it is so worth it when they learn how to cook things the right way.
I am all about having my children measure, cut, and mix a recipe. I will only step in if they are struggling or if they need to learn how to handle something they aren’t understanding. Other than that, I step back and give them tips. They are able to help prep the meal while learning different skills from each meal.
Set Rules Based on Age
You know your children. A younger child may struggle with something an older one can do easily. My son is 7. He can boil water, slice most produce, and cook on the stove top. He isn’t as strong with reading a recipe and working from it. However, my 10-year-old daughter is amazing at reading and following a recipe. I will give my son the freedom to cook and prep meals when I am around or with some help from his sister if it involves a recipe. On the other hand, my daughter has complete freedom in the kitchen. If she can find a recipe that works she is welcome to cook.
The only limitation to her freedom in the kitchen is what I have in the pantries. I try to teach her to talk to me before making big meals to make sure that I don’t have something else planned for that specific item.
Get Kids Involved in Meal Prep
Maybe your child isn’t ready to cook entire meals. That is completely ok. Get started by getting them helping you will meal prep. Maybe they can’t cook the entire pot of chicken and dumplings but they can practice cutting up the celery or dumping one of the ingredients into the pot. Many times I will assign a portion of dinner prep to each child. It helps things run more smoothly for me and it gives them a chance to learn.
Give Kids a Meal They Can Be In Charge Of
I am not a big breakfast person. I am quite content with a green smoothie. My family, on the other hand, loves a good breakfast. My daughter has taken over breakfast and often makes something that looks so good I wish I was eating in the morning. This can be as simple as DIY oatmeal packets they can heat up later or as complicated as pancakes and eggs. The idea is to give them a bit of control over what they are eating while teaching them how to prepare it.
If you want a simple way to get kids started cooking dinner, start with a crock pot meal. Most crock pot meals require little prep and are very forgiving of mistakes. Eventually, you may trust your child with a chicken pot pie or a key lime pie. It is all about what makes you feel comfortable while letting them learn.
Let it take place of lessons one day!
I know this is counter intuitive but hear me out. Put up the school work for a day. Instead, pull out the cookbooks. Pick 3 or 4 recipes you really enjoy and do some freezer cooking/meal prepping together. You can cook a few different things at the same time. Maybe you set the day aside to do oatmeal packets, have chicken in the crock pot, and prepare a family favorite recipe for dinner. You could even let the littler ones help with lunch by putting together the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and adding the fruit servings to the plate. The bonus to this plan is that you have a few dinners prepped for later in the week.
They are only as able as you let them be.
Kids are kind of amazing. They are able to learn and grow in so many areas. If you are willing to get them in the kitchen and let them start cooking you will be surprised by how much they really can do.
Do your kids cook? If not, why?
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