As I’ve worked to re-organize our days, I’ve looked at a lot of chore charts. The chores that I see for kids are all pretty standard–wipe the table, pick up toys, make the bed, etc. Some chores (like load the dishwasher) even get the kids IN the kitchen, but I rarely see meal preparation as part of that list. I think that is because the thought of getting our kids in the kitchen is a little intimidating to many of us. So, today I’d like to give you five tips for teaching kids to cook.
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5 Tips For Teaching Kids To Cook:
Remember your “why”.
We spend so much time worrying about our kids’ academic success, but many of us rarely think about teaching them life skills. Of course, they will need to have a good career to make a living. However, we often forget that no matter what they do professionally, they will need to run a household. And, most of them won’t make enough money to hire a maid and a cook. If we don’t take the time to teach our kids how to cook, we are sabotaging all of those years of making sure that they eat healthy foods. Because, if they get out on their own not knowing how to cook, they will likely turn to take out, fast food, and microwave dinners–which will be bad for their health and their finances.
Prepare before bringing your kids into the kitchen.
Trust me on this. Nothing is more frustrating than running into the pantry to grab an ingredient only to come back to a spilled mixing bowl because one of your kids wanted to help stir. Lay out your recipe. Gather all of the kitchen tools you will need. (I even set them up in “stations” according to what task each kid will be doing.) Bring in stools or sturdy chairs for your kids to stand on, if needed. Sit out all of your ingredients. (I also group them, if needed. For example, the recipe has you mix wet and dry ingredients separately.) Lastly, take a deep breath and muster up all of your patience.
Work from left to right.
Put your pan or mixing bowl in the middle with all of the ingredients on the left-hand side. As you add each ingredient, move it to the right-hand side of the pan/bowl. It’s easy for me to forget if I already added an ingredient when I’m cooking on my own. Add in a few kids, and I have NO CHANCE. LOL! Please, save yourself the frustration, and use this system.
Let go of perfectionism.
I know that sometimes it can be almost painful to watch little hands fumble to do what is easy for ours only to end up with a…umm…less-than-perfect result. You may have to eat a few burnt pancakes or have dinner an hour late. But, just remember, you are making an investment in your kid AND yourself. Not only will they go into their adult lives confident in the kitchen, but, before long, they will be a HUGE help to you! Think about how much time it will save you when your 12-year-old chops all of the vegetables, your 9-year-old measures out all of the spices, and your little ones set the table. Even if you don’t have a bigger family, like me, any one of those things is a time saver! And, even though it is a little chaotic at times, the kids really do love being a part of what you’re doing and doing “adult” things.
Last of all, get help!
Honestly, I had a hard time letting my kids into the kitchen because I wasn’t really comfortable in the kitchen. Most of what I knew, I figured out the hard way so I wasn’t even sure if I was doing it right. Google was (and still is) my friend when it comes to all of those cooking terms like sautée, blanch, or al dente. So, how on earth was I supposed to teach all of these things in the middle of a kitchen full of kids, knives, and an open flame? LOL! For that reason, I just didn’t. I needed help. I needed a plan. I needed somebody that knew what they were doing. And, I found exactly that when I stumbled across the Kids Cook Real Food course by Kitchen Stewardship.
Honestly, I have been looking at this course for over a year. I am extremely frugal and am always trying to do stuff myself to save money. But, guess what happened in that year that I waited. My kids got older, and they didn’t learn anything about cooking.
So, at the beginning of this summer, as I was looking at a one week art camp for my daughter, I had a realization. It was $95 for her to get 15 hours of art instruction. That was not much less than it would cost me for a lifetime membership to all three levels of the cooking class for all four of my kids and a lot more than some of the annual plans! So, since my youngest kids are at the beginner level, I am going to get a lot of bang for my buck as they move on to the intermediate and advanced classes at no extra charge! And, they are all learning a very valuable life skill.
Now, I am not saying that art isn’t important, but eating is absolutely necessary, and it’s much more important to me that they can prepare wholesome, healthy meals. And, as a bonus, after we finish a lesson, we have a healthy snack, side, or meal instead of another craft project adding to the clutter I’m always fighting! I highly recommend checking out the curriculum here!
So, what about you? Have you taught your kids to cook? What are some tips you can share with the rest of us that are interested in teaching kids to cook? Is teaching kids to cook important to you, but you haven’t done anything about it? Why or why not?
Are you having a hard time figuring out how to fit cooking classes into your schedule? Check out this post.
Do you know you need to get your kids in the kitchen, but you just keep putting it off? Read these tips.