Cooking at home is not only healthier than going out to eat, it’s a rewarding experience. This is why it’s such a great idea to get your kids started early with helping out in the kitchen. The best way to do this is to gather the kids in the kitchen and encourage their participation throughout the various steps of the cooking process. This not only gives them the experience and the know-how that will help them continue to do so in the future, but will also build their confidence and help them make healthier choices. No matter what age your child is, there’s a way to get them involved!
Here are some tips on getting your kids involved in the kitchen:
- Watching You Cook
Children love to copy what their parents do, so give them another great habit to mimic! No matter what age your child is, they can be there with you in the kitchen to watch you cook. Make the experience even better for your little ones by getting them on your level so they can see exactly what’s going on. A product like this may help them feel like they're part of the process, even if they’re not physically helping. Be sure to keep them at a safe distance from the stove, hot items, and sharp objects.
Helping during the preparation stage is perfect for children on the younger side who are old enough to walk but aren’t able to use kitchen tools or the stove. This step is great for involving children between the ages of 2 and 6 who can’t help make the food, though children over 6 can help as well. Ask your child to help you grab items that they can reach from the fridge, wash fruits and vegetables, and stir ingredients together. Children who are 5 and older can even help peel vegetables and hard-boiled eggs.
- Let Them Cut Ingredients
Once your child is a little older you can really get them involved in the whole cooking process by letting them help cut some of the ingredients. Technology has advanced tremendously recently and this doesn’t just mean with electronics, but also in the kitchen too. Today, there are so many kid-safe products available that can help make cooking a fun yet safe experience and give you peace of mind. Be sure to show them exactly what to do and walk them through the process step-by-step before they try it on their own. You may want to wait until your child is at least 7 years old before allowing them to cut ingredients, however since you know your child best use your best discretion.
- Taste Testing
Once your child is old enough to eat and taste various foods you’ll definitely want to involve them during the taste testing process of cooking. Taste testing is where you can really have fun with your kids because it’s the time to see how your hard work has paid off. Get their input by asking them to taste a dish, sauce, or drink and asking them what they think. If more of an ingredient is needed, have them add a little bit more until it’s just right. This will give them a sense of pride knowing they helped make the dish excellent.
- Setting the table
Getting ready to eat the meal you just prepared is the best part of cooking, and setting the table can help build the excitement. Give this important job to the kids by allowing them to set the table, bring out dishes that were just prepared, and explaining the dishes to other members of the family who weren’t able to help in the kitchen.
Remember to be patient with your little ones. Cooking and spending time in the kitchen is a whole new experience for them and taking the time to teach and show them how to do things properly can do wonders for their self-esteem. Things may also get a little messy so you’ll want to be prepared with paper towels and cleaning essentials if necessary. Happy cooking!