Kids in the Kitchen: Getting kids interested in cooking
The thought of getting your little ones involved in the kitchen might seem like a huge step, but it doesn’t have to be! Having the kiddies help out can be as small as letting them choose which fruit they get as a snack each afternoon, or sprinkling a garnish on top of a finished dish. With some easy planning, you can get your little chefs helping out in no time — their creativity might surprise you!
Learning about food and healthy eating is imperative, especially at a young age. But what good is all this knowledge if kids have nowhere to use it? Helping with meal preparation can enhance children’s creativity, problem-solving critical thinking fine motor skills. Additionally, establishing a strong foundation of cooking skills at a young age has been proven to improve diet quality and decrease the consumption of processed foods throughout life. Teaching your kiddies some kitchen basics is a small investment worth a lifetime of benefit!
Your little ones love to be creative and when they get to use their skills in the kitchen, some of their picky habits may disappear! An easy place to start with getting your kids involved is to bring them to the grocery store. Whether they are in the cart or walking around, there is some way to help for all ages. Giving young kids the choice between two healthy options, such as bananas or apples, will get them excited about eating some tasty fruit when they get home! Older kids can go find different foods on the shelf giving them a sense of responsibility and a great way to practice reading and planning skills. For really little ones, print out a grocery list with pictures so they can help find things in the store!
The kitchen is also a great classroom. Not only is it the prime location to start teaching your little ones the importance of nutrition, but cooking requires a variety of other skills too. Following a recipe is an amazing way for kids to practice reading and learn new words. For older kids, recipes and measurements are a unique way to practice math skills, such as finding which two measuring cups make up 1 ½ cups of flour. Remember, practice makes perfect and before you know it your kiddies will be gaining confidence in the kitchen and will be excited to try new things.
Safety is so important in the kitchen and this is a great lesson to teach your little ones. As there will be some things your little chefs won’t be able to do yet, it is still a great experience for them to watch you prepare food, practice food safety skills and understand where their meals come from. To ensure they are staying safe, you may consider setting up a mini prep space on the kitchen table where your kiddies can be free to explore their kitchen tools and have fun with new ingredients.
Time is often a big barrier to preventing families from having little ones in the kitchen. Surely, at the start, kids in the kitchen mean a longer time to get dinner on the table, and usually a bigger mess that requires a longer cleanup. Start by choosing a couple of meals each week that your kids can help with. Maybe you choose a meal that has a short list of ingredients, or perhaps lunch on the weekend when you have longer to spend in the kitchen. Clean up is a necessary part of the cooking process and there’s no reason your little ones can’t help out with that too. Loading up the dishwasher can be a great coordination activity and playing with bubbles in the sink is always fun!
Whatever the task, big or small, having your kids in the kitchen from a young age will have a huge payoff throughout their lives. Cooking is something we all have to do every single day so we may as well learn young and make it fun!
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @kidcochildcare and on Instagram @cheflisaruscica!
Chef Lisa Ruscica
Chief Food Ambassador