My favorite people in the world to cook with are children.
I love their imaginations, creativity, willingness to take a risk, and ability to laugh when things don’t turn out exactly as planned!
Think of your kitchen as a playground.
It’s a wonderful place to explore, create, learn and enjoy time together with your children.
You may not have thought about cooking with your kids as a place to teach more than how to get food on the table, but it’s really a beautiful setting for many lessons:
- Learning to be patient
- Maintaining a sense of humor
- How to handle failure
- Working as a team
- Following through on a task
- Mastering health and cleanliness skills
- Reading and following instructions
- Developing math, science and reading skills
- Enjoying a sense of accomplishment
- Using your imagination
- Developing healthy eating habits
The first and most important “rule” of learning to cook is to have fun! Having fun should be the foundation of every kitchen activity you begin with your children. If it’s not fun or if they fear failure, then they’ll never discover the joy and pleasure of food. It will seem like just another chore, and they might miss out on what could be a wonderful passion in their lives.
Two of the many things I appreciate about my mother are that she gave me a lot of freedom in the kitchen and never, ever told me I was making too big of a mess or that what I created was a disaster. Believe me, I was (and am) messy and made many disasters (think baked iceberg salad), but she continually encouraged me and built my confidence. This is a wonderful gift you can give your own children, and here’s a secret I’ve learned: If I let my kids plan and cook the menu, they are much more likely to eat it! This even works with green beans!
I’ve written a few practical suggestions for your child to remember to keep your time in the kitchen running smoothly:
Remember to ask your parents’ permission before you begin to cook. Hey, why not let them be your helper in the kitchen? You will learn things together, and the best part is this: At the end, you will have something yummy to enjoy together as a family.
Cook like the pros do. Read through the recipe you want to make and look up any words or techniques you don’t know. And gather together everything you need — both ingredients and tools — before you start cooking. You don’t want to be halfway through the recipe and realize you’re missing something!
Cleaning is a big part of cooking. Your food needs to be prepared safely and, if you clean as you go along, when you’re ready to sit down and enjoy what you’ve cooked, you won’t have mountains of dishes to worry about.
Most of all, remember to enjoy your time in the kitchen and learn to do things your way. Experiment and make changes that work for you.