There are tons of reasons to get your children involved in meal prep, beyond just having a little bit of help with getting dinner ready. Although your mind may go straight to food messes and sharp knives when you think of your little ones in the kitchen, there are safe and fun ways to include them. Just follow these tips for cooking with your kids!
Why you should get them engaged
First, cooking together means spending time together. Your kids can form quality memories in the kitchen. Plus, allowing your kids to help is great for their emotional and cognitive development, from boosting confidence to improving decision-making.
Not to mention, cooking is a great educational opportunity. You aren’t just teaching them how to cook, but also working on math and reading. It’s also a great way to educate them about nutrition.
Tips for Cooking with Your Kids
Know what they can handle
First, you need to appropriately assign tasks according to their capabilities. For smaller children that may look like stirring a bowl or simply handing you something off the counter. The older they get the more you can trust them with, but be sure to set them up for success. Another good job for kids: taste tester.
Even as adults we make mistakes in the kitchen, so of course your kids will too. Be patient, and don’t make a big deal when they mess up. That will hurt their confidence, and may make them too afraid to keep helping out with the cooking.
Involve them throughout the process
Let them see behind the curtain of mealtime. Planning this week’s menu? Give them some options to choose for what they would like to eat one night. Or, look through cookbooks and recipes together.
Take them with you to the grocery store or farmer’s market to help with the shopping. Here’s an extra tip: take a list with you when you go shopping. Then when they beg for some unhealthy treat, you can explain you are only buying what’s on the list.
Before letting your children into the kitchen, it’s crucial they understand some important safety rules. Obviously hot ovens and stovetops, as well as sharp knives, are off-limits, at least until your kids are old enough to handle them.