Growing up both my parents worked, but Mom was always home to make dinner and us kids always helped out. Being in the kitchen was a daily activity. In the afternoons we made waffles, sandwiches, rice crispy treats and lots of other things. Eventually I learned to follow recipes and experimented with variations of things.
Getting kids involved in the kitchen is not just fun – they learn a lot too. You can start kids in the kitchen even when they are toddlers. Toddlers love to dump things out. You can measure the ingredients and they can add the ingredients into a bowl. Preschoolers can do easy tasks like stirring and adding ingredients also. One of my favorite things to make with preschoolers is English Muffin Pizzas. Just split the muffin in half, have them put sauce, cheese and toppings on. Pop them in the oven until the cheese is melted and then you are done. They are so proud to be in charge of their own little pizzas.
Kids in Kindergarten - 3rd grade can follow along with simple recipes and practice measuring. And older kids can learn how to use a knife and how to use equipment in the kitchen.
Here are some of the benefits to cooking in the kitchen with kids:
Cooking in the kitchen can develop a sense of pride with kids and improve their self-esteem. There is nothing like hearing the pride in kids when they say, “I helped make that” or “I made that all by myself”.
When kids take part in the preparation of meals and food, it increases the chances that they will try new and different foods.
Following recipes and directions are important skills. There is an order to adding most ingredients and being able to follow multi step directions is an important skill to cultivate. Measuring the ingredients will also reinforce math skills especially if you are doubling a recipe or cutting a recipe in half.
Being able to cook and prepare food is an important life skill. It teaches kids the importance of whole foods and what goes into making meals. Later on in life when they are on their own, it will be an easier transition and decrease their dependency on prepared foods that often include preservatives and added salt and sugar.
The best part about getting kids in the kitchen is that it can be really fun with an added bonus of spending time with them and making memories that they will treasure. It’s a bonding experience - some of the best talks I’ve had with my kids was while we were mixing or chopping ingredients for a meal. You can make your kitchen time even more fun and make our Little Chef Hats and Aprons crafts
Check out our Kidfunideas recipe section for some recipes to try with your kids. One our favorites is the Zucchini Cheddar Hash brown cakes - crispy and buttery on the outside and tender and delish on the inside. They are just the right size for little hands and are a great way to sneak in more vegetables into your kids diet.