How to involve kids in cooking
Children may start their culinary careers crafting mud pies in their backyards, but that creativity and imagination soon may translate into foods they can actually eat.
Many kids love cooking because it can be fun and messy, two qualities children find hard to resist.
Parents can foster their children’s love of cooking and help them along the way with these tips.
- Be patient. Knowing there will be a mess can help you prepare. Toddlers are bound to spill and drop. Put a plastic tablecloth under the work area and on the floor. Also, cooking likely will take more time, so set aside extra preparation and cooking time.
- Teach good hygiene. Hygiene can prevent foodborne illnesses. Make sure everyone involved in cooking, including children, washes his or her hands before cooking begins and continues to do so after handling foods. Hair should be tied back, and separate prep surfaces should be designated for produce and meats.
- Assign age-appropriate tasks. Even children as young as 3 years old can chop food with a serrated butter knife with a rounded point. This helps teach knife skills that kids can develop. Children also can add ingredients. As kids get older, parents can decide when to let them use the stove.
- Experiment with dough. Kids particularly enjoy rolling pie crusts and pasta. They also can make dumplings and then fill them. Many retailers sell small rolling pins are for kids to handle.
- Practice measuring. Let children read recipes and be in charge of portioning out ingredients. This reinforces classroom lessons.
- Move on to more sophisticated tasks. Around age 8 or 9, kids can take on jobs like opening cans and slicing bread. Between ages 10 and 12 they can start working independently as long as an adult is in the home.
Children also can be involved in cooking by helping draft shopping lists.
Last modified June 29, 2022
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