Getting Kids into the Kitchen
Involving children in food preparation can broaden their palates
A few weeks ago, I saw a promo on the Food Network for a “Cook with Your Kids” weekend, where all the food shows on Saturday and Sunday would focus on a kids-in-the-kitchen theme. Unfortunately, I had way too much going on that weekend to check it out, but I thought it would make a great House and Home piece for the rest of you who missed it, too.
Inviting your children into the food-preparation process not only teaches them cooking skills they can use and adapt as adults, but it also gives them a sense of ownership and adventurousness with food. For example, you probably don’t think your son would, in a million years, eat asparagus, but if he helped make it himself, he might. Historically speaking, this has been proven.
I remember being a kid in the kitchen myself, and looking back my early attempts at cooking and baking were always met with success and I never made a mess. I expect my parents’ recollections might be somewhat different from mine, but I know they have fond memories of teaching me how to cook.
My little one is much too little to be in the kitchen – except in the Bjorn while I’m in the kitchen – but I hope someday he will love to cook as much as his Daddy and love to eat as much as I do. I hope he will want to spend time with us in the kitchen making DIY play dough and chicken fingers and gigantic messes, and when he grows up he remembers the perfect sugar cookies and the best spaghetti of all time, but not the time the rice pudding boiled over on the stove.
Looking for some childish cooking inspiration of your own? Start here:
Batter up – Working with recipes which start out as batter – pancakes, brownies, cookies – children practice motor skills, and holding a spoon is similar to holding a pencil. Give these recipes for pancakes, brownies, sugar cookies and royal icing a try.
Cook with a book – I love the idea of planning a cooking or baking project to correlate with whatever your kids are reading. This preschool teacher shares her ideas and experiences with using children’s books as inspiration for kids’ projects in the kitchen. My favorite is “painting” cupcakes with colored icing!
Age appropriate – Use this chart to identify appropriate skills to foster and recipes to try with your kids at different ages. The author notes that parents should use their best judgment. “Some kids can be trusted with a knife and a gas stovetop at 8 years old, while there are 14-year-olds who shouldn’t be left alone in that situation,” she writes.
Learn to cook together – You don’t have to be Giada de Laurentiis (Lord knows I’m not!) to invite your child into the kitchen with you. This blogger, who describes herself as a “foodie by day, microwaver by night,” set a goal to try 365 recipes with her children in 365 days. All you have to be to cook with your kids is a lover of food and willing to experiment – and maybe fail, but at least you’ll have somebody to laugh about it with. Just try not to burn down the house.
Kid-friendliest recipes – You’ll find a long list of fun recipes to try with your kids, which they’ll like eating as much as they liked making. Candy Crayons? Tortilla Snowflakes? Tell me you don’t want to make those, just to see…