Making dinner, or any meal, does not need to be another dull chore. Liven up your kitchen expeditions by turning your cooking obligations into a family game. In this way, you can get everyone, even yourself, excited about this daily job and get everyone involved in the process.
With sports and homework and playtime, kids don’t always get into the kitchen. The meal magically appears on the table, with little interest in how it got there. Getting kids in the kitchen with you teaches them about the value of fresh ingredients and healthy cooking practices. They start to understand about the nutritional value of each ingredient and step. Getting them there is difficult if it looks like another chore but very exciting if it’s a game.
Kids of all ages can come in the kitchen, but their age and maturity directly affect which meals you can make and which steps they can do. If your children are toddlers or young grade-schoolers, it’s best to focus on teaching them to wash their hands and use good hygiene. They can mix or stir ingredients. As children get older, they can learn to measure and add items, layer and prepare them. Oldest kids can chop and deal with hot items.
Turning a daily job into a game takes a little creativity. Television reality cooking shows and competitions can serve as examples. Divide children into teams, and give them each a meal component or dish. You can give them all the same dish and have an impartial judge, like dad, decide whose is best, based on objective criteria. As children learn more, invite them to create new dishes, using ingredients you give them.
Keep recipes simple as children are just starting out. Salads work well for young children and beginner cooks. Chop and prepare ingredients before inviting children to join you. Children can choose from the prepared ingredients as they make their inventive dishes. Sandwiches also work in this way. As children grow and improve, they can move onto tacos, omelets, pastas and other warm dishes. Stick with recipes that allow for creativity and mistakes.
If you are hosting a party or special event for these games, you may want to have prizes on hand for the winners. Ribbons and small trophies really evolve the competition to an extra special level. Kids cooking supplies and kits are great gifts to encourage ongoing creativity and love for cooking.
- little cook image by NiDerLander from Fotolia.com