Our kitchen wouldn’t be complete without kids measuring, mixing, stirring, and creating. Although many people don’t like the mess of kids in the kitchen, I look at it as an investment. By investing time in teaching my kids how to use the kitchen supplies (and how to clean up after themselves), I will have less of a mess when they do get in the kitchen to help me cook throughout the week. Not only that, it’s a great way to enjoy doing something together.
Even though my kids are constantly in the kitchen helping me out with meals, I set aside one time a week to do a more structured one-on-one cooking class. Although it might sound formal, it’s really just a time for one of my girls to make a recipe on her own, or with a little support from me. My girls each love having their own special cooking time and love to impress each other with their tasty creations.
If you’d like to get your kids cooking in the kitchen, start small. You might consider simply starting with a weekly designated time and then growing from there.
- Set aside a time you will spend one-on-one time with your child in the kitchen. Each of my children has a designated cooking day (Monday or Tuesday) that they are in charge of snack time.
- Find some kid-friendly recipes online or invest in some kid-friendly cookbooks. The Friends of the Library book sales have served our family well with lots of ideas, and my girls feel so grown-up with cookbooks of their own!
- Set your kids up with a small cooking binder or a pocket-folder. Include print-outs of kid-friendly recipes you might find online or in magazines and begin a record of which recipes your child has made. My kids love going back to review the recipes they’ve already put together.
- Make your kitchen as kid-friendly as possible. Put mixing cups, measuring spoons, bowls, and anything else kids will be using in drawers or cupboards that are accessible. Part of cooking is preparing and they will feel important if they are the ones taking the needed supplies out. If some things might be out of reach, consider using a stool in the kitchen while they are learning.
- Consider making or buying aprons and chef hats. Although not required, these tend to be a hit with kids. It’s always fun to dress up, so why not dress as a chef while acting like one?
Don’t fret about “cooking” in an oven or over the stove. There are so many recipes that can be made without heat, from simple fruit dips to nut-and-raisin mixes. And don’t worry about being stranded with clean-up duties. It’s all part of the class. This is a great time to teach your kids how to rinse out bowls and load the dishwasher!
Just a little word of advice: If you’re going to try this, be sure to stick to your appointed time. If your kids are anything like mine, they won’t let you forget that it’s their cooking day, even if you involve them in your everyday cooking. Cooking class days take on a life all their own!