Get kids cooking
with these 8 simple tips...

kids cooking

Without some good strategies, the idea of your kids cooking might be a nightmare, or worse, it might not happen at all. That would be a real shame, because kids can learn to be very competent in the kitchen. If you teach kids to cook now, they will learn important skills for when they're older, plus, they'll unburden you. Here are some tips to get started tonight:

1. Start cooking with your kids when they are young.
I know, I know! It is so much more time and mess when you have a junior partner in the kitchen! Remember that you are laying a foundation of competence, motivation and enthusiasm, and it is worth the extra time and cleanup. Furthermore, remember that with kids cooking with you in the kitchen, they're less likely to be geting into mischief elsewhere. And remember, every mess you make together is an opportunity to instill in them the idea that a good cook cleans the kitchen when the cooking is done.

2. Praise the effort and encourage family appreciation.
We have taught our kids to say “thank you for dinner, so-and-so)” before we put a fork to our mouths. The look on the chefs face (even if it's me!) is: “thank you for acknowledging my work!” This pride leads to enthusiasm, which, of course leads to more cooking!

3. Pay attention to what's age appropriate when cooking with kids
From safety to convenience, you will approach a meal differently if your child is 4 or 10, also if they've been helping a lot or if they're just starting out. There are many considerations with kids cooking to keep it safe and also manageable, but don't let them stand in your way.

4. Leave your perfectionism behind.
With kids cooking, the results will vary lol! Success will come, though, if you let your kids cook enough to learn how.

If you yourself are an accomplished cook and really enjoy cooking, this process might be a tough one. Be flexible if you want to share your love of cooking with your kids. Cooking with a four year old might only be produce pasta and Prego, but if you gradually introduce the idea of improving the jar sauce, they'll eventually learn how to make pasta sauce from scratch.

5. Cook real food together.
I have a problem with most kid cookbooks. It's all well and good to make smiley face apple snacks with peanut butter and raisins, but what I really need is a meal. It's important for you and your kids to cook real food together. There's nothing wrong with making food attractive, but taste, nutrition are more important, and kids need to learn how to cook actual meals.

Along the same lines, many children's cookbooks focus on desserts. Everybody loves cookies, but you don't need help making cookies every day. With you and your kids cooking together, cook the food your family needs. Most of the time, that means breakfast, lunch or dinner. So help them develop a few simple, tasty recipes that they can make with less and less help.

6. Teach kids to cook their favorite meals
Ask kids what they like to eat, and start with that. Involve them in the menu planning and the grocery planning.

7. Be consistent!
Work up to having each child helping you cook once a week on the same night if possible. Having a set time reminds not only them, but you too. Let them choose a night and stick to it! You will be amazed at how habit begets skills and competence.

8. Remember the big picture.
Is it easier to just keep them out of the kitchen so you can cook efficiently and more quickly? Of course. But think of the long range goal—you want them to gain skills, and you want them to actually learn how to cook to contribute to your household.

Out of all the household chores, getting kids involved in cooking can be the most daunting. Give these 8 tips a try and see how easy it can be to get your kids cooking!

Go to Chore Charts from Kids Cooking