Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Kids in the kitchen

One thing that I enjoy immensely is when my children want to be in the kitchen cooking with me.  They all like to bake because, well let's face it, you have yummy sweets to eat at the end of baking.  Cooking is different because it's dinner and involves veggies.  LOL.  I've tried to make sure that they all know the basics of cooking whether they wanted too or not.  It's just really nice when they want to do it.  

My kids have always helped in the kitchen.  From the time they could walk.  Even a 2 year old can set the table.  We call my kitchen "the cave", it's small, hard to brighten up and secluded from the rest of the house.  So, it's always been that when little, they've been in the kitchen with me so I knew what they were getting into...LOL.  Anyway, even at 2 years old, I would stack the items needed for dinner on the counter next to where I was working and I'd give the little one one plate at a time and tell them, "this goes where Mom sits" or "this goes where you sit".  If they take one item at a time, it may take them most of my prep time to set the table but they are occupied and helping.  And if a plate gets broken, it'll be ok.  Just remember to not use the "good" china for this.

Kids can also help with the food prep.  Even little kids can wash veggies, tear lettuce, help to mix a salad.  Just remind them that "tossing a salad" doesn't mean throwing things...LOL  They can put butter on bread, they can help clear a table.  There are lots of things that little kids can do.

As kids get older, they can actually help with meal preparation.  First and foremost, always put safety first!  I found this safety list for parents on JustMommies and this one for older kids on the Kraft website.  Take a minute to go over the safety rules and once your child gets into cooking, maybe even print them and put them on the inside of a cabinet door for them to refer to.

I decided to write about this today because my son had worked on a badge for health that required him to plan some meals but not a lot of cooking.  He decided he wanted to help here and there anyway, normally he helps to bake and set/clear the table.  

Anyway, he has kinda gotten into it, even helping me make Belgium Waffles last weekend and now asked me to help cook for a whole day, breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I know he can do it.  The idea of the menu kinda scares me, but I'm game.  We're gonna work on the menu later this week.  

A few helpful hints when working with kids in the kitchen is to make sure you plan extra time.  Keep it simple.  Think tacos over fried chicken!  LOL  Bring your patience, you're gonna need it.  Run a sink of soapy water, you'll need it.  And make sure they help with the clean up.  Make it fun (even the clean up), put on some fun music and turn it up louder than normal.  

Don't forget to laugh and have fun!  It can be so much fun to have your kids in the kitchen with you.  Embrace it (and the mess) and ENJOY it!

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