24 Sep 5 Ways To Get Kids In the Kitchen
“Mom, I don’t like fish. I don’t want to eat spinach. Why is everything mixed together? I want cheese!” Are your kids complaining about dinner? Get them shaking and baking in the kitchen!
Summer is sadly over and the kids are back in school. It can be difficult to get back into routines and dinnertime is no different. It is easy to quickly throw something together while the kids play on their phones or watch TV, but there are many benefits to having them involved in the dinner-making process.
Why Involve Your Kids?
When kids are complaining about dinner, they’re often rebelling against a process they weren’t involved in. Kids want independence and a say in what they eat. Plus, participating in the kitchen will teach them how to cook a meal on their own when the time eventually comes. When children are involved in the preparation process, they are more likely to be involved in the tasting process, too. Getting children engaged in the cooking process also means that there is more time to teach them about nutrition–how the carrots can help them see at night or the salmon is good for their brain. Spending more time in the kitchen will also allow you to share stories about your family history or hear about their day at school.
5 Ways Easy Ways to Get Your Kids Cooking
Think your child is too young to cook with you? Think again! Children as young as 3 years old can help out with prepping dinner. Here are five ways to get kids of all ages in the kitchen:
#1: Ask them for ideas
Having your children pick out groceries or search for recipes online will get them excited to cook and bring their ideas to life. Maybe they saw a show on the Cooking Channel that made fish tacos or their cafeteria was serving a meatloaf they love. Ask them what they want to make to give them ownership of the meal.
#2: Help chop the ingredients
While I wouldn’t give a 5-year-old a chef’s knife, there are other ways kids can chop vegetables and ingredients. Cutting vegetables with child-friendly scissors is an easy way for kids to take their arts and crafts skills from the classroom to the kitchen. Bell peppers, scallions, cheese, and tomatoes are easily cut with a pair of dull scissors. Is your child a little older? They can use a small paring knife such as this one from Amazon. Just be sure to teach them “the claw”, or tucking their fingers in so they don’t cut themselves. You can also give them a bench scraper to cut softer fruits and vegetables like watermelon or zucchini.
#3: Measure ingredients
If your children are learning math skills, measuring out ingredients is a great way to practice. How many ¼ cups are in a full cup? What do 3 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons equal? Adding, subtracting, dividing, and multiplying are all useful skills to have in the kitchen. As they get older, you can start mixing and matching measurements to make things more complicated.
#4: Mixing with hands or stirring
This is a step that everyone can participate in! Stir with a wooden spoon or mixing straight with your hands. It can be fun to learn about different textures and incorporate ingredients together. Just be sure they wash their hands before and after.
#5: Taste testing
The best part of cooking, in my opinion, is the taste test. Taste as you go, to see if the recipe needs more salt, or trying a final product–these are all ways that kids can learn about new flavors and foods.Just remember to avoid trying batters with raw eggs and raw flour.
If you are interested in having your kids in the kitchen more, check out Raddish, a culinary club for kids. Radish will send you recipe guides, shopping lists, cooking tools, and a kitchen project each month. You can also check out Super Kids Nutrition by my pal Melissa Halas, RD and cookbooks and blogs by Real Mom Nutrition, Mom’s Kitchen Handbook, and Liz’s Healthy Table. Remember, the most important thing is getting everyone to sit down at the table to talk face-to-face (using words, not electronic devices), and to enjoy a delicious, nutritious meal that everyone participated in.