Let’s face facts: it is usually faster and easier for parents to get dinner on the table going solo than having their kids “help” them. Nonetheless, it’s so important for kids to learn practical life skills and how to be capable and independent cooks.
I do my best to leave extra time for meal preparation so Kiddo and New Kid can contribute to meal times. It’s not easy to give over control and I’m not always successful but I’m trying.
Here are ten suggestions which do not involve sharp knives or hot stoves. Remember: let go of perfection!
1. Read through the recipe. Do you ever find yourself constantly pausing in order to refer to the recipe? Get your young reader to help keep track of the instructions.
2. Cut up food. I know! I know! I just said no sharp knives. But there are lots of things that can be cut with a table knife. Think: soft fruits like bananas and strawberries. Also, be prepared to let go of your need for perfectly diced food.
3. Measure ingredients. Teach kids how to scoop, level and dump dry ingredients or measure and pour wet ingredients.
4. Pound spices. This is a favorite around here. Kids love to have a little fun with the mortar and pestle.
5. Assemble food. We make our own pizza once a week and the boys love to spread the sauce and put on the toppings. Other easy to assemble foods include burritos and tacos, sandwiches and wraps, and salads.
6. Wash fruit and vegetables. Teach kids how to scrub carrots and rinse off fruit. Kids love the salad spinner.
7. Mix ingredients. Once the ingredients have been measured, hand over the wooden spoon!
8. Pressing buttons. This one is perfect for toddlers. New Kid loves to press the buttons to grate blocks of cheese with the food processor, flip the lever on the stand mixer and press the blender buttons. Be sure to teach good safety habits, though.
9. Grease and line baking pans. If you have muffin tins, baking sheets, cake pans or other baking dishes you need slicked with some butter or lined with parchment paper, this is a great job for the kids. Kiddo especially likes to use the pastry brush to spread oil on baking dishes.
10. Set the table. Finally! Dinner time!
What are your favorite ways to get your kids working in the kitchen?
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