Despite the stigma behind kids getting in the way in the kitchen, teaching kids to cook is a great way to build confidence and strengthen your family bonds. Look at just about any culture to see the proof. Full days spent in the kitchen cooking with multigenerations bring a close bond to any family. There are some things to consider when introducing kids to the kitchen routines, but doing so can make all of the difference in the world.
Make it fun
Kids are all about fun. Just watch one of them playing outside and you will quickly see that anything can be fun if you just put a little imagination behind it. Today, companies are making it easier than ever to get kids to enjoy kitchen time. With bright colors and tools that are easy to use, kids quickly take an interest in what they eat every day.
Before you even begin the prep work, sit down with your child and make up a game. Assign different tasks, develop different strategies and get ready to step foot into the biggest play area ever. Don’t forget what your role is because kids will be quick to tell you that it’s their task you are trying to do.
Ask kids to use their imagination. For instance, while wading through the jungle of broccoli trees, what kind of exotic species are they looking for? Maybe they are trying to paddle their way out of the Royal Gorge while whipping some eggs or even in a race against time crossing the tight rope of spaghetti while expecting the kitchen timer to ding at any second.
Try new things
Here is a wild idea; let your kids plan dinner. If they want to have hotdogs and yogurt, what kind of recipes can you come up with to accommodate both ingredients? At the grocery store, pick out a new ingredient and make a mock game of Iron Chef of the House. Who can come up with the most creative ideas for how to use the secret ingredient in a dish?
Let your kids put broccoli (or any veggie for that matter) in the mac and cheese. Who knows; maybe they will begin to enjoy their greens. Giving children the ability to experiment and try new things will broaden their horizons and teach them about how to pair foods. Don’t just stop at the foods though; think about different ways to prepare those foods. For instance, instead of just rolling up a burrito, how about frying it or baking it with cheese on top?
Keep it safe
Anytime a kitchen is involved, safety is always number one. Explain this to your children before beginning and make a game out of this too. See who can safely carry the eggs from the fridge to the kitchen counter. Also, try making a safety patrol, where kids get to point out potential safety places and suggest ways to improve and prevent.
Take a hint from job sites and put a poster in your kitchen saying how many days you’ve gone without an accident or major spill. Set a goal for hitting a certain amount of days safely and a reward. Like packing a picnic to the park.
Yes, it may take a little extra planning, but teaching kids to cook is probably one of the most rewarding things a parent can do. Keeping it fun, inspiring creativity and ensuring safety are easy steps for getting kids geared up for the kitchen. Go find the lost treasure buried somewhere in that pile of mashed potatoes and get your kids having fun with you in the kitchen.
Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.
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