Cooking with your kids is an awesome life lesson. It teaches teamwork, helps them hone their fine motor skills, teaches creativity and flexibility. Most importantly, cooking is something that they will use for the rest of their lives. As your child becomes a recalcitrant teen, and conversation becomes more difficult, cooking together can bridge any size gap.
Cooking with your kids doesn't require a lot of expensive tools, no gourmet foods and no exotic locations. It does require patience, tolerance, understanding and a sense of humor for when stuff goes wrong - which it will, at least fairly often in the beginning. It can be stressful, but the memories and the lessons you give to your children are priceless.
Cooking with your kids has a lot to offer - but how do you get started?
Start at the beginning. It's a very good place to start. (My apologies to Julie Andrews and the cast of The Sound of Music.)
Go over the basics in the kitchen.
Start with Food Safety -Teach the importance of hand washing - and then teach it again. I once had a culinary teacher who had us all put pink food coloring on our freshly washed hands, and ten minutes later, she showed us every single place we'd touched on our faces. It was a LOT more than we'd ever imagined. Teach your kids the need to pull hair back from the face. Talk about what food need to get chilled and why, and how long raw and cooked foods can be out on the counter.
Demonstrate Knife Safety - You can purchase child safe knives, or allow your child to use your knife with your hand over it. Teach her to curve her fingers under and how to rock the knife over the food. Use a cutting board and dedicate one for fruit and veg and a separate one for meats.Talk about cleaning the cutting board.
Pick Easy to Prepare Foods - Choosing foods that are easy to create means a greater chance of success and more chance that your child will want to cook again. Grilled cheese, pancakes, trail mix, cupcakes - all of these are foods that kids enjoy that don't require a large amount of prep time.
Measurement Basics - Also known as, I do not think that the one cup liquid measurement means what you think it means. There's a difference between a liquid and a solid measuring cup. Flour needs to be spooned in and leveled off. Go over the basics of measurement with your child.
Stir Does Not Mean Whip. Cooking can be broken down into basic terms, and some of those are stir, whip, cream,chop, dice, mix, fold. Each of these involves a separate skill. The ability to differentiate between these skills can often make or break a recipe.
Cooking is a skill that each and every one of us needs - but it can be tricky to teach your child. What is the one thing you wish you'd known about the kitchen when you first began cooking?