Kids in The Kitchen
Studies show that kids who know their way around the kitchen are more likely to choose a balanced diet. Not only does it keep them healthy in the long run, but they also grow up to be more confident cooks as adults. From grating cheese to prepping salads, we break down cooking and cleaning tasks according to age and skill level.
Cooking with toddlers is messy work, but remember: every spill contributes to a lifelong skill. Kids this age are pros at washing fruits and veggies. Fill the sink and put their splashing talents to good use. Younger toddlers can tear lettuce for salads and help with greasing baking pans. With adult assistance, toddlers can also count and pour pre-measured ingredients into bowls and stir them together.
Super kid-tastic tip: Keep your kids away from the cutting board while you chop with a distractingly fun task: emulsifying salad dressing. Pour ingredients into an unbreakable container, seal it tightly, then put on their favorite sing-along tune and tell them to get shaking!
With careful instruction and supervision, chopping, grating cheese and vegetables, and cutting herbs with scissors are all on the menu. Older toddlers can cut soft ingredients, like strawberries, with a strong plastic knife. Measuring, stirring and setting and clearing the table are other age-appropriate tasks.
Super kid-tastic tip: Let your kids in on the big decisions by allowing them to choose one fruit and one veggie whenever you go grocery shopping.
Kids in this age range can read, plan and execute a recipe-or even an entire meal. Working with them side-by-side, you'll be able to play sous chef and still be able supervise as they peel, chop and operate kitchen machinery like the blender, food processor, stove, oven, microwave and toaster. This is a great opportunity to share practical cooking and safety tips like how to protect their fingers while chopping or use the oven without getting burned, etc.
Super kid-tastic tip: Let your kid plan the menu. Writing grocery lists, budgeting and shopping for ingredients are so empowering your kids won't even notice all the math skills they're using.
Tweens and teens can still benefit from your wisdom; be available for consultation, but try to allow them as much independence as possible. Read up together on safe food-handling techniques, proper cooking temperatures and other higher-level kitchen skills. Budding chefs may want the challenge of trickier dishes like making risotto or fresh bread.
Super teen-tastic tip: Enroll in a cooking class together and you and your teen can sharpen your knife skills, learn new presentation techniques and expand your creative boundaries.
Do your kids help you cook family meals? Share the tasks they help you with below.
Looking for unique things to do with those summer tomatoes? Check out these recipes, brought to you by our friends at The Pampered Chef.