Cooking with your kids is a great way to encourage healthy attitudes toward food. Especially during the holiday season, when you're making indulgent treats like cakes and cookies, you're teaching your kids that the best food comes from your kitchen, not a package. And great conversations about food and life can happen when you're working side by side.
Inviting little hands into your kitchen isn’t always easy. Here are some ideas for making cooking with kids more happy than hassle.
- Cooking with kids can be messy and slow. It requires more of your attention. The aesthetic output isn't always top quality, either. So relax your expectations and celebrate the process rather than the result (or the cleanup) — your kids will feel the positive energy and jump in joyfully.
- Start simple and work your way up. Begin with assembly: pouring ingredients into a mixing bowl, tossing tomatoes into a salad, layering cheese on a pizza. Then graduate to prep: cutting or tearing soft veggies and fruit, measuring ingredients, whisking eggs. Finally, tackle real cooking: seasoning food, working safe cook-sources like toaster ovens and crock pots.
- Follow a simple rule: "Show me, help me, let me be." Demonstrate the technique, work together to master it, then set them free to do it on their own.
Sometimes moving from one step to the next takes years, sometimes minutes. But eventually, you'll have a full-fledged sous chef sharing your kitchen. Isn't that a happy thought at any time of year?