Did you know that cooking with your kids as soon as they’re able to, has a significant impact on them? As well as creating special bonds that will unite you in the kitchen throughout your life, they’ll learn important skills.
Cooking is an essential life skill. Learning how to at a young age also gives kids a huge advantage. And preparing food requires dexterity. The more they practice, the more they’ll improve their fine motor skills! As well, cooking with kids is a great way to learn healthy food habits.
Preparing meals can sometimes be boring, but having kids in the kitchen with you makes this task fun for the whole family!
Sometimes it can be difficult to convince kids to help prepare meals. Here are 10 tips to get them in the kitchen:
1. Keep them in the kitchen with you
Even if your kids don’t participate, get them to help prepare meals. Sit them down on the kitchen counter and take the time to talk about their day, have them do some taste-testing, that kind of thing. If you like to cook, they’ll want to get involved and lend a hand!
2. Explain all the steps to them
Explaining the steps to making a meal is the best way to pique their curiosity! This will also give them the foundation for preparing a few things like fruits and veggies.
As well, if you show them how to safely use cooking utensils, they’ll know what to do when they are in the mood to try.
3. Taste everything along the way
Tasting food while you’re making a recipe is a good way to get kids interested in cooking or at least, interest them to help prepare meals! By turning it into a game, you’ll also introduce new food to their diet. Ask them to close their eyes and guess which vegetable they’re eating, for example.
This will give them good habits that they’ll keep when as cooks: tasting what you whip up is the best way for a recipe to turn out because you know the flavours and can adjust the seasoning along the way.
4. Adapt tasks for your kids’ ages
Tasks that are too hard discourage kids from cooking with you, the same way that tasks that are too easy will make them lose interest. Here is a list of tasks adapted to kids’ ages that will help you realize what your little ones can accomplish in the kitchen.
Under 5 years old
- Decorate cakes
- Knead dough
- Put premeasured ingredients in a big bowl
- Line baking sheets with tinfoil or parchment paper
- Stir mixtures
- Wash vegetables or dirty bowls
- Turn small kitchen appliances on and off (toaster oven, food processer, blender)*
5 to 8 years old
- Garnish pizzas
- Roll out dough
- Cut cookies with cookie cutters and put them on baking sheets
- Take ingredients out of the pantry or fridge*
- Peel vegetables
- Measure ingredients*
- Make meatballs for burgers
- Help clean up*
9 years old and up
- Crack eggs
- Grate cheese
- Pour batter into muffin tins
- Cut, slice, chop*
- Learn how to use the oven*
*Parental supervision required
5. Give them fun things to do
If your kids show an interest in performing a particular task that you think is safe for them, then let them do it. Cracking eggs, stirring batter and decorating cakes are fun things that kids like to do and will keep them interested in helping you prepare food.
For example, kids should also be allowed to touch food to feel the texture or smell the difference between flour and sugar. Get them to knead dough and roll it into the pie plate or make pizza. Their smiles will be worth the little mess that your apprentice chefs make!
6. Don’t underestimate them
Even though they have little experience, your kids are agile and smart. They are expert tinkerers and budding artists. Making meals with you will seem like an arts and crafts activity to them, but even better because they can eat their works of art!
By giving them tasks that gradually become more complex, you’ll be helping your kids improve in the kitchen. With your help, they can accomplish anything – and that might just surprise you!
7. Take your time
Of course, cooking with kids requires a lot of patience. If you’re strapped for time, let your kids do something else because time is the key ingredient for having fun when it comes to making meals.
So don’t hesitate to make quick and easy recipes. For example, use canned or frozen vegetables or choose recipes that require only a few ingredients and a few steps. Recipes that take less than 30 minutes are ideal for your tiny sous-chefs. You can also ask kids to help at the end of the recipe when the tricky parts are done.
8. Cook what they like, but also what they don’t
Make your kids happy by showing them the steps it takes to prepare their favourite meal or dessert. Cooking something they like will make the whole thing more interesting.
On the other hand, don’t just cook things they love. You should also prepare food they don’t like. Children who don’t like vegetables will be more inclined to try them if they’ve made them themselves.
9. Use fun accessories
There are tons of kitchen accessories on the market that are adapted for little ones. You’ll find cute aprons in their size, safe utensils or cookie cutters in fun shapes and colours. What better way to get kids in the kitchen!
10. Let them choose the recipes
Get them to participate by letting them choose the recipe. Flip through cook books, visit cooking blogs and show them pictures of dishes so they get a good idea of the final result. You’ll have fun going through all most tempting the possibilities!
Here’s a list of easy recipes to make as a family. You’ll find inspiration for the next cooking session with your munchkins:
Spinach and prosciutto quiche – Get them to roll the dough out
Egg tacos – Let them beat the eggs
Green smoothie – They can add ingredients to the blender
Chocolate pear muffins – Let them pour the batter into the muffin tin
Veggie guacamole – They can mash the avocado
Asparagus and egg muffins – Get them to thaw the asparagus
Veggie mac and cheese – Let them grate the cheese
Yoghurt cake – They can add the premeasured ingredients
Spinach dip – Ask them to mix the ingredients together
Apple carrot pancakes – Let them stir the batter
Sweet pea brownies – They can frost the brownies
Make moments memorable
For the best memories, make your own recipe book with your kids. Take pictures of your little chefs in action and immortalize these precious moments. You’ll also have fun putting your album together with them!