If you’re like me, you hate putting your kids in front of the television while you’re cooking, but they’re tired of playing with each other and you’re not really up to dealing with having them underfoot–what’s a busy, tired mama to do? Put them to work right along with you!
Cooking with kids can be a lot of fun if you approach it with a positive attitude, use kids recipes and don’t worry too much about the mess that gets made. Not only does cooking with kids give them a head start on learning a useful life skill, but when you start cooking with toddlers you can instill in them healthy eating habits and incorporate educational lessons as well. Here are five tips to get your kids involved in cooking with you:
- Keep your expectations low. Tasks like cracking eggs, measuring oatmeal and pouring measured milk into a bowl are all great jobs to pawn off when you’re baking with kids, but remember that a shell might end up in the bowl (have them crack each egg, individually, into a small bowl before adding to the rest of the ingredients) or that some oatmeal will end up on the counter.
- Allow the kids to choose their recipes. I’ve found this to be a great way to get “picky eaters” to eat things they might frown upon otherwise. Give your kids two or three choices and let them decide which one will be made. They’ll love that they got to make a decision, and they’ll be proud of the work they put into its creation.
- Talk about nutrition as you cook. Health teachers can teach all they want about the food pyramid, but it’s not going to become “real” until they see it implemented at home. Keep their minds occupied as you work together by explaining why you’re making your own pizza with olive oil and organic cheese and veggies, rather than ordering out, will be influential as they grow up and are faced with making their own decisions.
- Explain how to use measuring cups. Sneak in a little math by explaining fractions while measuring ingredients for baked mac and cheese and be sure to have them count each cup when they need to add multiple cupfuls of the same ingredient.
- Give them their own rag. Hold them accountable, and keep them busy, by letting them clean up their own messes as they work alongside you. And be sure to have them wear an apron or dad’s old t-shirt to keep their tutu skirt clean!
What are your best tips for getting kids involved in the kitchen?