Cooking With Kids
What You Should Know
By Mary-Lou Halvorson
At what age should kids be allowed to participate in the kitchen? If the thought of letting your kids loose in the kitchen conjures up visuals of sticky spaghetti mashed into the floor and accompanying sauce spray patterned on the wall, let me give you some advice. It's not all 'mess and clean-up'.
In the (sometimes) mad rush to get meals on the table on a regular basis, we can sometimes forget what a fun activity cooking can be. It's pleasures are certainly not lost on children though, who embrace the process of creating something special with a simple list of healthy ingredients that they can enjoy eating as a finale.
From a very early age, children pretend to cook – they make mud pies in the sandpit, hold elaborate tea parties in the bath. They enjoy the process of choosing a recipe, planning the process, assembling the ingredients (creativity), measuring with cups and spoons (maths), and chopping and peeling tasks that require and develop their concentration skills. Guiding and assisting your children in the kitchen will help develop and reinforce these learning skills. Kids love projects that have a beginning (preparation), a middle (messy, creative fun), and an end (eating and enjoying what they've made).
Learning to cook is not only fun for children but a skill that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Involving your children in cooking teaches them important life skills and if you guide them in choosing the ingredients wisely, can give them the appreciation of good nutritional food rather than fast unhealthy takeaway food.
Helping your child to feel confident with cooking has many benefits:
. Contributing to the household duties helps them to feel important.
. Learning to work together as a team to get the job done.
. Learning to plan and make responsible choices.
. Developing and practicing their creativity and imagination.
A cooking party is a perfect way to celebrate the birthday of a young eager-to-learn child. Not only does a cooking party provide an invaluable hands-on activity to entertain them and their guests, but it concludes with a meal for them all to enjoy. Even fussy eaters will be thrilled to eat something they have made with their own hands. There's something about creating a meal themselves which makes them more likely to eat whatever they had a hand in making.
It may take longer to prepare the meal but the moments with your children will be priceless.
. Always make sure children are supervised in the kitchen.
. Never leave children unattended in the kitchen.
. Keep it fun and age-appropriate.
. Let your child get involved in choosing a recipe everyone will enjoy.
. Have patience. Don't worry about flour on the floor or spilled milk.
. Choose recipes that don't involve sharp knives or the oven.
. Choose easy recipes - dips, pizzas, meatballs, icing cupcakes.
. Make sure the children tie their hair back and wash their hands.
Here's an easy child’s recipe for starters:
1 tsp Salad Dressing
1 pkg Cream Cheese
Combine (to taste required) salad dressing with cream cheese and place in a small bowl. Cut and wash celery, broccoli and carrots. Arrange cut pieces of vegetables around the bowl of dip. (The veggies are for dunking into the dip).