Disclosure: This is a guest post on behalf of Korie Cantor.
Have you ever noticed how your kids have their big bright eyes fixed on you when they watch you work in your kitchen? It has to be fascinating for them to watch, smell and taste the mouthwatering outcome of the infusion of what were merely raw ingredients just a few minutes ago! You must seem nothing short of a magician to them.
Some kids enjoy watching their parents cook and probably harbor dreams of whipping up exotic delicacies all by themselves someday. It makes sense to get them started in the kitchen at a young age so that by the time they’ve grown, they’ve already developed a life skill and a constructive hobby. One of the best ways of acquainting them to the culinary world is by letting them help you out with your day-to-day cooking.
This, however, needs to be a step-by-step process. Remember, nothing is more important than your child’s safety. Children’s abilities vary according to their age so you need to delegate age-appropriate tasks to them to keep things fun.
Chances are your children will start showing an active interest in cooking from the age of about 4 years. Here are some tasks that you can let them help you out with –
- Washing fruits and vegetables in bowls
- Stirring and/or mixing ingredients at room temperature
- Mashing boiled vegetables at room temperature
- Kneading, rolling and cutting dough. You will need to intervene here eventually
- Spreading butter, preserves, icing, and so on
The following tasks would be ideal for 7- to 10-year-olds –
- Fetching you ingredients from the fridge/ kitchen cabinet
- Cutting herbs using kitchen scissors that fit into their tiny hands. Using scissors is safer than using a knife
- Measuring different ingredients as per said proportions
- Cracking open eggs and separating the yolk from the white
- Beating eggs, yogurt, and cake mixtures
- Greasing and lining a baking tray
- Peeling oranges and/or hard-boiled eggs at room temperature
- Setting the dining table
You can increase the range of activities for 11- to 13-year-olds to –
- Planning family meals
- Chopping vegetables and fruits using a knife
- Peeling fruits and vegetables using a peeler
- Using mixers, grinders and hand-held blenders
- Heating and defrosting food in the microwave
- Making fruit/ vegetable salads
Depending on their level of interest and prior experiences in the kitchen, teenagers can be entrusted with more complex tasks. Some teens are able to cook entire meals by themselves, while others need supervision, guidance and assistance from time to time.
All said and done, the fact remains that just like everyone else’s kids, your children may not listen to you either. They always want to get their hands on every ingredient, in every kitchen drawer, and on every pot or pan. It is, therefore, important to tell your kids about the dos and don’ts of being in your kitchen, before something goes wrong.
Mentioned ahead are some pointers on how you can familiarize your children with the kitchen –
Lay the Ground Rules
Rules are important to bring in the element of safety, discipline and organization in the kitchen and in their lives. Plus, it also allows you to be in charge at all times. Not to mention it makes it easier to maintain the hygiene standards too. Kids want to be at 10 different places at the same time, but you need to put your foot down when they’re in your kitchen.
Tell them what is allowed and what is not. Teach them the importance of eating healthy and cooking hygienically. Ask the little girls to tie their hair up in ponytails; you don’t want hair strands on your plate. Do not allow them to handle knives and peelers at a young age. Inform them that they should stay away from the stove, the hot utensils and the food.
Let Them Choose the Recipe
Kids will have more fun if they cook what they love to eat. For preadolescents, you can look up some easy recipes online or in the cook book and suggest a few to them. They can pick one or two and you guys could get cracking in the kitchen.
If you don’t have all the ingredients at home, you could make a list and go shopping together. If you’re picking out samples or getting freebies of your favorite cooking products at the supermarket, you should familiarize your children with them so that they learn about using quality products in their meals.
Involve Them in Choosing the Ingredients
Let them pick out fresh produce, herbs, and spices for you. Let them help you decide what you should buy and open up the scope for improvising/modifying original recipes as per their understanding. This should teach them to think for themselves.
The more you involve them in this process, the deeper they will go, which will only further heighten their interest in the whole matter.
Overlook Minor Mistakes
Remember, each mistake teaches us something. Your child will make mistakes too, but as long as it isn’t serious, you should cut him some slack and let it go. What matters is how the final product i.e. the dish turns out. So, if in the process of cooking he spills some flour on the floor or on himself, don’t make a big fuss about it. These things happen and your child will learn in time.
Keep Them Busy
Kids have a short attention span, so it is important to keep them occupied all the time to engage them fully in an activity. Have a list of tasks ready before you start working with them and explain in clear and concise terms how they’re expected to carry them out. If they start to look disinterested, break up the task or give them breaks between multiple tasks.
Getting your kids interested in cooking and in the kitchen in general is a win-win situation for both of you. Delegating tasks to them will free you up for other things, while your kids will get to learn the value of money and hard work. They will also pick up important skills like planning and organizing, which will only serve them well in their lives.
Author Bio :
Korie Cantor has been working as a freelance writer for a long time. She has a diverse background in family and health. She loves sharing her opinions on the latest issues affecting women and money saving tips.