This is a Guest Post by Kim
It is never too early to teach your kids to cook. Engaging them in the kitchen early on encourages healthy eating habits, introduces them to new and exciting foods, helps them develop cooking skills and allows for quality bonding time.
So, what are you waiting for? Next time you make a meal, enlist the help of your young one!
Teach Them the Basics
Now is a great time to instill healthy and safe cooking habits. Stress the importance of washing their hands before working with food and after handling raw meats and eggs. Teach them how to wash fresh fruits and vegetables and how to peel them. Cleaning up is just as important. Show them how to discard of food properly and what can go in the recycling bin or compost. If kids learn how to wash dishes early on, they’re less likely to consider a chore.
No matter how young or old, kids should learn about the origins of food. Take them to the grocery store, farmer’s market or even the farm so they can learn where food comes from. When you return home, have your little ones help you put the groceries away.
Kids as young as two can help scrub work surfaces and wash foods. They can tear apart lettuce, break apart broccoli and grapes, knead bread or spread out lasagna strips in the dish. As kids grow, their responsibilities in the kitchen can increase. By the age of four, kids can help with stirring batter, peeling fruits and measuring dry ingredients. Eventually, they will be able to crack eggs and use more sophisticated appliances like an egg beater.
While this is a great time for bonding, it is also a great learning opportunity. You are teaching them important life skills and helping build their sense of responsibility and confidence. The earlier kids start, the more open they will be to trying new foods and eating healthier. As you prepare foods, encourage tasting and help them build their vocabulary by describing to you the taste of foods.
Make it Fun
Encourage kids to have fun with food. You can turn the process into a game by quizzing them on the names and origins of foods. Most importantly though, keep their hands active and let them get dirty. When kids have their own cooking utensils, apron or even a chef’s hat, it makes for a more enjoyable time. You can also come up with creative and playful ways to plate food.
Restaurant at Home
Every once in a while, let them play chef or restaurant owner. Have them create restaurant theme, a menu and delegate responsibilities to other family members. It encourages everyone to get involved and send time together.
While there are some items in the kitchen that we may want to shield kids from, like the oven and sharp knives, there are others that are easy and safe to use, like a toaster without the aid of an adult. As with anything, teach them how to use appliances properly and warn them of dangers. As kids grow and become accustomed to maneuvering the kitchen, you can increase their responsibilities and broaden the types of appliances and utensils they use.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Kim is a busy mother of two and feels it’s very important to teach children cooking techniques from an early age.