Whether your kids are two or ten, there are ways for them to help out in the kitchen more. It’s often considered an unsafe place for children to be, but this doesn’t have to be the case. If you want to involve your kids more in what is going on, there are plenty of things you can do. Don’t be afraid to let them hang out in the kitchen, even if they’re only banging pots and pans together or spoons on the countertops. It’s important for them to be involved in food preparation and clearing up afterwards. It will show them how they can contribute to the family, give them a sense of their own abilities and develop skills that will come in useful when they are older. Here are some ways you can get your kids more involved.
Involve Your Kids When Baking or Cooking
There are a wide range of cooking or baking tasks your kids can get involved in. Obviously, if they are young, you’re going to want to keep them away from the stove and sharp knives. Making bread dough, pastry or mixing cakes involves nothing that is sharp or hot so let them try and make their own. Don’t be afraid to let them get their hands dirty, after washing them of course. Let them see the whole process right through to the end and let them eat what they’ve created.
Look for Kid-Friendly Recipes
You may stick to the same tried and tested recipes for your meals, but you need to keep your kid interested by introducing new kid-friendly recipes. Cooking can also be a fun way to learn different things such as counting and the alphabet. Look for recipes that will provide a balanced diet for them and try and avoid too many sweet things.
As they get older, you’ll be able to help them read recipes and follow them. To start with, however, you’ll have to do it for them, but let them measure, weigh, mix and stir the ingredients. Measuring spoons and cups will help with their numbers while making tortillas, sandwiches or pitas will help them remember shapes. Being shown something on a practical level will help them to remember the concept better.
The new recipes you’re introducing could also be a way of trying out new fruit and vegetables. Choose a different letter of the week and find something that will match.
Basic Rules of the Kitchen
There are a number of rules for the kitchen that it’s important they learn from the beginning. The first and most important is a question of hygiene. Teach them to always wash their hands before preparing food and to wipe any spills immediately.
They should understand the importance of keeping raw meat separate from ready-to-eat food and fruit and vegetables. At the same time, you need to explain that they have to wait until the food is cooked before they can taste it.
Fruits, vegetables and raw meat and seafood should be washed before it is cooked, and they should always use clean utensils and appliances when cooking. You can make a point of leading by example with all of these basic rules.
The Clean Up Afterwards Need to be Fun
Most mums will admit that the cleaning up afterwards is not the most enjoyable part of cooking. Nevertheless, it’s something that has to be done, and your kids can help too. Tell that washing up is fun and show them how much you enjoy doing it, even if you have to smile through gritted teeth. Cleaning up should be fun, so be prepared for a little extra mess for you to clean up together. Keeping your kitchen kid-friendly should extend to making the kitchen area one that can be cleaned easily. Countertops and kitchen backsplashes, for example, should be easy to wipe clean. Keep a stool next to the kitchen sink so they can reach to do the dishes as well as reach the countertops. Add to the learning experience by using different coloured sponges and dish rags.
When your children are young, it will be vital to supervise them at all times. As they grow older, so the level of supervision will change. Close supervision is essential in order to avoid injuries and mishaps. You can start them with simple tasks such as stirring pancake batter or kneading the dough. As they get older, so you can introduce them to the stove and explain how to safely use it. Explain that the burners are hot, and they shouldn’t touch them or place things on them other than pots and pans. Even a young child can be allowed to stir something on the stove if you’re stood by their side.
How Your Kids Can be Involved Outside the Kitchen
Learning about food preparation doesn’t have to stop when you leave the kitchen. Let your kids help pick out ingredients when in the store. Why not let them grow some of the ingredients as well? Involving them in this way will make them less of a fussy eater, and they’ll be more willing to try out new things. Visit your local farmers market and teach them about the importance of buying local produce. Encourage them to pick up, feel and smell what they are buying and don’t forget to introduce them to the farmer.
Sharing meals as a family is important and will change the way your kids view food. If they are involved in the planning and preparation of meals, not only will they be learning an important skill. It will also make mealtimes more enjoyable. Consider asking friends and neighbours to come along and prepare meals with you, or encourage them to bring their food around to share. It will bring you all together and be a way to introduce your children to new foods. The more your kids become involved in family meals, the more they will see it as a great way to spend time together. You can be certain as well that they’ll choose to do the same with their own kids because they know the value and remember how much fun it used to be.