One of the activities that my kids really enjoy doing is cooking. They especially like helping me make breakfast. During the school week, I normally whip up something quick: oatmeal, frozen waffles, and maybe scrambled eggs. So on the weekends, I treat the whole family to a big breakfast—usually pancakes made from scratch, a ham and cheese quiche, or french toast.
When I start taking out the pots and pans I usually find one of my kids standing right behind me waiting to help. They love to help Mommy cook, and now that they are getting older I love letting them help me. When they were younger, it was a tricky process and sometimes a time-consuming process. A healthy dose of patience while the little hands scooped out a cup of this or a spoon of that went a long way.
Now that everyone is old enough to read, my little chefs are actually good helpers. Everyone knows how to crack eggs or how to measure a cup of milk. We have a good system in place where we work together to gather the ingredients. We start first with scanning the recipe to determine what needs to be done and then divide up the work in advance. Dividing up the tasks helps us make sure that we don’t add twice or triple the ingredients needed and gives everyone a chance to help.
Cooking with kids is not only a fun activity to do with your kids but it also helps with reading and math skills. If we are doubling a recipe, my fourth greater can practice adding his fractions while my kindergartner practices basic addition. Reading the recipe very carefully helps ensure that the food you make tastes yummy; yes, we learned that the hard way. (Doubling the baking soda really makes for yucky tasting pancakes!) In addition to working on these skills, kids are likely to try new things and eat their vegitables if they helped prepare the meal.
If you haven’t tried cooking with your kids yet, go ahead and give it a try. Your kids will really enjoy it!
Here are a few of my tips to get you started
- Start with easier recipes that are “forgiving” if you add a little extra or too little of this and that.
- Always keep safety in mind and remind your kids of the safety rules before you start your dish. My rules are simple: wash hands before cooking or after touching meat or eggs, and never go near the hot stove.
- Kids take pride in the work and can become very talented chefs. If you give them a task that’s too hard, you may discourage them from enjoying the activity and cooking again in the future. Assign age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen. Kids between 3-5 are great at putting in the ingredients that you have pre-measured. They also love to mix. Older kids are good at measuring and gathering the ingredients.
- Every chef needs the right tools in the kitchen. My kids have their own aprons and a stool to help them reach the counter. There are some really great cookbooks made with junior chefs in mind, but you don’t need to limit yourself to just those cookbooks.
- Give yourself enough time to prep and make the food. You won’t be able to rush through the process, and if you try to, you’ll stress yourself and the kids out.
- Have fun with it! It’s a great activity for the kids, and they will cherish the moment (and the food!).
Do you cook with your kids? What are some of your favorite things to make with them?