Kids love to help, and helping in the kitchen tops the list. Once they’re past the toddler “lick the spoon” stage, where do you start when you want to teach them real cooking? The best thing to start with is simple recipes of their favorite foods. Before you know it, they’ll be surprising you with their own creations as they grow confident in the kitchen with the life skills you’ve taught them.
Match the recipe with the ability of the child so they don’t get overwhelmed with information. Most toddlers like to eat eggs, and all kids are fascinated by this “wonder food” that comes out of a shell and changes colors and tastes when its cooked different ways.
Help your child add ingredients and stir pancake mix to the proper consistency, then pull a stool up to the stove and hold the pancake turner with them as the pancakes are flipped. Explain the process as you do it and describe the steps, such as, “Now we’re going to watch for the bubbles to pop while the pancake cooks.”
Prepare cupcakes for a school party or church bake sale with your child. Even a toddler can pick out a can of frosting and place the paper liners in the tray, and you can make up “jobs” for them such as sorting the liners by color. Older children can do the actual mixing as you read and explain the recipe directions.
Allow your children to choose the foods they want to cook and eat (within reason, of course!) to give them a feeling of empowerment over what they eat. Menu planning is an important part of cooking that we tend to overlook in today’s busy lifestyle.
- Always supervise children in the kitchen, especially when using a stove or oven.