I love to cook but it hasn’t always been that way! It wasn’t until after I got married that I really started thinking that I might enjoy having a least one decent meal I could feel confident preparing. At that point though, a box of macaroni and cheese proved difficult so I knew I had my work cut out for me! I learned how to cook by holding a notepad and pen while watching the food-network. Yes, that’s really how it happened 10 years ago.
Now, I try to bring my kids into the kitchen with me as often as I can. I want them to have the confidence they need in order to enjoy the process! Here are 7 tips that have helped me make cooking more enjoyable for all of us!
1. Give Them Separate Jobs! To avoid fighting over who’s turn it is, assign each of the kids different steps within the recipe. Just make sure you switch it up for them the next time or you’ll have a whole new argument about how Ella always gets to be the one to __________________(insert complaint).
2. Let Them Chop! Kids love to use knives! I think it just has to do with the fact that they know they’re not usually supposed to that makes it so darn appealing. None the less, I let my kids help cut the food. Of course I’m not giving them my sharp knives to work with, but give them a butter-knife and a chopping board and they are happy helpers!
3. Fresh & Whole! I really want my kids to have an appreciation for fresh whole foods. I start this way before we begin preparing the meal. As we walk through the grocery store I love to point out the different foods we’re seeing. We’ve even brought home some interesting items because the kids thought they looked cool! My favorite it to have them smell and identify the fresh herbs.
4. Knowing When to Welcome Helpers! When cooking with the kids, I’ve learned that a recipe that may normally take me 20 minutes is probably going to now take me 45. If I’m in a hurry to get dinner on the table so that we can get out the door for a Softball game, that’s just not the night to have little helpers int he kitchen. If, however we have the whole night, I welcome my little chefs into the kitchen. I think they actually enjoy preparing way more than actually eating it since the excitement of the “interesting foods” has often lost it’s appeal when it’s time to actually eat it.
5. Mess Around. Right now my kids absolutely love to cook! I do not want to be the one who ruins that because I was to stressed out over a spilled bag of rice or the blops of soy-sauce that has inevitably just stained their shirt. So I try to get their aprons on them before we start, have them change clothes if I really don’t want to see a particular piece of clothing ruined and then keep reminding myself over and over that messes can be fixed.
6. (Little) Chefs Choice! I’ve found that one of the very best way to get my kids super excited about dinner and getting in the kitchen to help (although I never seem to have a problem getting them into the kitchen, it’s getting them out that proves tricky!) and even getting them excited to try new things, is to let them choose! If it’s up to my 4 year old, we’re having clams. If it’s up to my 6 year old we’re have artichokes and if it’s up to my 7 year old we’re having brussel sprouts.
7. The Classroom Kitchen! I’m always trying to come up with fun and sneaky ways to work on math and reading skills with my kids and I have found that the kitchen is an amazing place for that! I will have my 7 year old find the really big page numbers in my ‘Joy of Cooking’ Cook Book or my 6 year old sound out words in the recipe and even my 4 year old can count the number of ingredients we’re going to need or practice looking for letters on packaging wrappers.
I’ll go ahead and admit it… I feel just a little closer to Super Mom Status when I get my kids in the kitchen!
Leave a comment below and share your best tips & tricks with us!