Those small hands can come up with some pretty surprising culinary creations if given the opportunity! To get them started, you will need some tips for cooking with kids that will make the process more enjoyable for the youngsters and adults alike.
Kids can come up with the most hilarious comments, but when it comes to their eating habits, it becomes less fun to deal with. It seems like parents and carers need a great dose of creativity to make the kiddos adopt healthy eating habits. Nonetheless, this struggle is far less significant when we involve them in the process from the very beginning: the cooking part. Cooking with kids is also the first step in raising well-functioning adults, and who knows, maybe a future chef?
Roll up their sleeves, prepare their side of the counter, dress them in a cute apron (to feel like a true chef), and be prepared for a unique cooking experience. You might end up having more fun than them!
5.) Expect, Embrace, And Enjoy The Mess
As any other activity with kids, things are going to be messy in the kitchen. The sooner you accept it, the better it is. Consider it an artistic project: your kid is the bubbly artist, and the final dish will be their (yummy) masterpiece. Allow them to experiment and discover, that’s where the fun comes from. And as for any artist, fully encourage their choices. If they want to stray away from the original recipe and try their own avant-garde version of it, let them. Who knows, maybe it will end up becoming the secret family recipe everyone asks for at family dinners!
Special tips for cooking with kids: make them wear everyday non-fancy clothes that can be easily cleaned, put an apron on everyone, and keep a handkerchief nearby, ready to wipe any spilled liquid.
4.) Teach The Basics: Safety And Hygiene
Like in any game, there are rules kids need to follow in the kitchen. You could even make a check-list of do’s and don’ts as a reminder for the first couple of cooking sessions.
- Everyone should wash their hands before and after cooking, it’s the same as when they eat their meals.
- All vegetables and fruits should be washed thoroughly first before using them in the recipe or tasting them. Also, show the kids the raw food that can’t be eaten as is, and explain why.
- Using knives depends on the age of the kids, nonetheless, if they can handle a knife, it should be done with the supervision of a grown-up until they learn to control it perfectly. Use your sharpest knives since the dull ones can easily slide off and harm the kiddos’ fingers.
Boil liquids on the back burners and turn pot handles away from the edge of the stove. Kids tend to grab anything at reach.
Cooking with kids requires you to be as diligent as possible. At first, don’t overwhelm yourself with difficult recipes that require too much action, start small and scale up.
3.) Tickle Their Senses
If the kids touch the butter, smell the fish, take a bite of the vegetables, or keeps goggling at the dough rising in the oven, it’s a good sign. It means they’re interested and are enjoying the activity with all their senses.
They may want to lick the beaters, the spoons, or their fingers, let them do it and remind them that they need to be cleaned after that. Also, don’t wait for the recipe to be complete to allow them to taste it. They can also experience how food changes throughout the recipe: they can taste the dough before and after baking, the salad before and after seasoning, or the freshly chopped onions before and after stir-frying. They will have a better understanding of how ingredients work and will start recognizing new flavors little by little.
2.) Encourage And Support, But Never Force
Children have their preferences, we all know that too well. Forcing a kid to use a specific ingredient they dislike might have the opposite effect we were looking for. Our role is to present them with all the possibilities and let them choose as much as possible.
Keep in mind that these little balls of energy don’t have the patience of adults. They could be thrilled when rolling the first five veggie-turkey meatballs but after a while, they will get bored and lose interest. Think of something to keep them busy. I remember my mom giving me a piece of dough to play with. Needless to say, I was completely hooked.
On another note, give the kids power. The power to choose, the power to make the same mistakes over and over again without being scolded, the power to take initiative, and the power to make it their own recipe. Just relax and let them be.
1.) It’s Actually More Than Just Cooking
It’s a learning opportunity for everyone involved.
As a parent, older sibling, or carer, you will learn more about your kids’ preferences. You can engage a discussion with them that can go beyond what’s happening in the kitchen, and thus deepen your relationship with them.
On the other hand, they can learn more about the world surrounding them. Encourage them to ask questions: Where do vegetables come from? How much time does it take for a banana to grow? How does milk become butter? Why do we need to eat veggies every day?
It might also be time to explain some realities: where meat comes from or the difference between ethical and industrial farming. By having these grown-up conversations with the kids, they will feel empowered and can start making their own choices early on.
The kitchen can also become their new classroom and you’re the teacher! Encourage the older kids to read the recipes out loud to practice their reading skills and explain how measuring and weighing work for a quick and practical math session.
Once they get a good grip on it, introduce international food recipes from different regions and cultures, and discover them together.
Did you enjoy these tips for cooking with kids? Do you have any additional ones? How about you, did you ever try cooking with a child before? Let us know how it went and what you learned! As a start, we highly recommend these 6 incredibly easy healthy snacks for kids that’ll get them excited to eat well, you only need to click the Next Story button below!