Give your kids great life skills, share delectable eats, and have a blast while doing it.
More than 25 percent of young adults said they didn't know how to make a cake from a box mix. And 60 percent don't know how to make salad dressing. While these statistics paint a bleak picture, you can equip your children with basic tools and experience to navigate a kitchen.
Help your kids learn the process of selecting a meal, checking the refrigerator and pantry for ingredients, making a grocery list, and preparing a meal to be done at dinner time.
It can be challenging to teach your kids to cook. Though following these 5 tips will make for an intentional and successful experience.
Allow for Messes
Remember back to when you were learning to cook. Can you count the number of flour spills, cracked eggs landing on the floor, and stovetop splashes? We've all been there, and our kids will be there too. Plan on your kids making a mess (or two) as they prepare a dish, and it's okay.
As you're encouraging them, allow them to clean up their own spills. Everyone can benefit from practicing patience and diligence when a mistake happens. The learning continues through the process of keeping a clean kitchen.
Let the creative juices flow! What would make cooking together even more fun for you and your kids? Turn up the music. Purchase (or make) fun aprons to wear while preparing a meal. Laugh and keep the mood light throughout the process.
Show kids the benefits of cooking, now and long-term. In our house, whoever cooks doesn't have to help clean up. In fact, our younger son wants to cook even more to avoid more dishwashing duties. Talk about dishes and meals they'd like to make when they grow up.
Give Them Resources
There's such a variety of cooking resources for kids. Let your kids explore foods that interest them, as it's so much more fun to cook foods that you enjoy. Take a trip to the library and let your kids browse available cookbooks. Or consider purchasing a couple of cookbooks designed for kids like The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs, Super Simple Cooking for Kids, and National Geographic Kids Cookbook.
While apps like Pinterest have appropriate age limits, you may want to consider creating a board on your own Pinterest account and let them browse and pin recipes while you supervise.
Offer to Be Their Sous Chef
Beginner chefs need to start with small and short tasks in the kitchen (getting a measuring cup, stirring, or setting the table). As your chef becomes more and more experienced, you can shift from "chef" to "sous chef." Instead of you being in charge and asking your child to help, you and your child will switch roles. Your child will be in charge, need to pay close attention to the recipe, and kindly give you specific tasks to prepare the meal.
As the sous chef, you can still monitor the meal preparation and ask guiding questions like, "May I stir the soup? I wouldn't want it to stick to the bottom of the pot," or "What should we do next?" Respecting your young chef will give them more confidence with each meal prepared.
Eat and Give Feedback
This is yet another fun part! Set the table and enjoy sharing the meal together. Ask your young chef what they think of the food. Dig deeper with clarifying questions to help them describe what they liked, didn't like, and would do differently next time. Once your child has given feedback, be sure to share your own encouragement about how the food looks and tastes.
You can also mention things you would do differently next time. It's okay (and even healthy!) for your child to receive negative feedback, especially when it's done kindly and within a number of other positive notes.
How have you gotten your kids in the kitchen to cook? Tell us in the comments below.