Quality Family Time is one of my passions. Spending time together creating a meal can be an exciting time for your family and the best part is your kids are learning important skills to help them become self-sufficient. Remember the old adage that “You can give a man a fish and feed him for a day, or teach the man how to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” This is much the same. Take the time to teach your kids how to cook for themselves. It will make such a difference in all of your lives!
There are a couple of things you should remember as you teach your children how to cook.
- Don’t cry over spilled milk. When they are young, they will spill and make messes. Simply clean them up and move on.
- Model exactly what you want them to do and give very detailed instructions. At first you may even need to show them by taking their hands and helping them. This is a process. Talk them through each step.
- Start with easy family favorites. For us it was pancakes and grilled cheese. Don’t be afraid to try new recipes. If you don’t know how to do something in the kitchen, you can google how to do just about anything. I have found many answers online when I didn’t know how to do something.
- Make it fun! This is quality time together so make it exciting.
- Don’t underestimate your child’s ability levels. I remember thinking that my kids were way to young to be cracking eggs when I saw my husband letting them do it. I was pleasantly surprised with how well they could do it.
- Don’t forget the cute apron and hat.
Little activities for little hands…Focus on the simple skills first. Let them…
- Pour the ingredients into the bowl.
- Stir the mixture.
- Help roll out the cookie dough.
- Help wash the dishes, put them in the dishwasher, or put the utensils away.
- Wash the fruits and veggies.
- Use the toaster and spread butter on the bread.
- Decorate cookies and cupcakes.
As they get older, you can start to give them more difficult tasks.
- Let them measure out the correct amounts.
- Let them read the recipe to you.
- Have them get all the ingredients out of the pantry and fridge.
- Make it educational. By 4th grade they are learning fractions and measurements. Try doubling recipes or half-ing the recipe so they can practice adjusting measurements.
- Teach them how to chop veggies and meats. Crying together as you cut onions is definitely a bonding activity.
- Let them flip the pancakes or use the waffle maker.
- Teach them how to make scrambled eggs, a grilled cheese, and brown meat in a frying pan.
- One year, one of our chores was to help with dinner. My kids became my sous-chefs and got things out for me and did a lot of the prep work.
- Take them grocery shopping. Make a list to save money and time.
- Teach them how to take a pan out of the oven. My daughter burned her arm once and wouldn’t take anything out again for years. You can buy long oven mitts to cover their arms and save them the trouble.
As they get even older, the goal is to have them make the entire recipe start to finish. One Summer, we alternated one kid’s chore was making dinner. So they planned the meals for the week with me, went to the grocery store with me to get all of the ingredients, and I let them take charge in the kitchen and stayed back to only gave encouragement. It was a great opportunity for them to learn all the aspects of the dinner. You can get a kid-friendly cookbook to help them come up with ideas for dinner or keep a family recipe book. My daughter just got a Mug Meals book that she loves to use and is excited to use in college.
When I was in high school, my mom taught me how to make homemade chicken cordon bleu. It was delicious and I then could make it to impress all of my favorite dates! I even learned how to make my grandma’s secret fried ice cream recipe (also very delicious). Those times in the kitchen with my mom are priceless now. She even let me lick the spoon! With her skills, I may never be quite the cook that she is, but I have learned so much from her!
Planning has saved us a ton of time and money. Try some freezer meals. Find a holiday to do a food prep day with you family. One day we spent in the kitchen and each kid was in charge of something different…pancakes, waffles, muffins, french toast. Then we froze them so they could have a quick breakfast item. We have done this for lunches as well. My son made some mini corn dog muffins and mini pizzas. They freeze well. Then they put the frozen items in their lunch and they are thawed by the time they are ready to eat. It really saves us a lot of time on busy school days.
Whatever you decide to make together just try something. I have a friend who’s family does a homemade pizza night every Friday night. They have it down to a science with everyone helping with different parts. It is fun to watch and delicious to taste! My kids have learned how to follow a recipe and even how to improvise. What tricks do you have for teaching your kids to cook?
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