The kitchen offers an excellent place for you to teach your children cooking and baking techniques, healthy food choices, and bond.
Before getting your kids involved in the kitchen, it’s important to teach them about kitchen safety. Understanding potential dangers associated with appliances, what to do in case of an emergency (i.e. cuts, fires, burns), and personal hygiene when handling food is extremely important.
When it comes to kitchen safety, teach them to:
- Use oven mitts.
- Wash hands before preparing meals.
- Ensure pan handles face in while on stove top.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Wash hands and tie hair back before handling any food.
- Always wash hands after handling raw meat or poultry (which can cause salmonella poisoning.)
- Immediately wash any dish or utensil that comes into contact with raw meat or poultry.
- Never place metal in the microwave.
- Clean spills as soon as they happen. Doing so will help prevent falls.
- Use equipment and appliances properly (this includes knives, food processor, blender, oven, etc.)
Once kitchen safety has been discussed, it’s time to get your kids involved with baking their favourite treat or cooking the next family meal.
Age Appropriate Tasks
Very young children (under four years), can help with such simple tasks as:
- Stirring ingredients with a wooden spatula or spoon.
- Handing you ingredients as you need them.
- Holding down the button to the blender or food processor.
- Holding your hand as you whisk or stir.
Also consider purchasing play utensils to help them feel like a full part of the cooking process.
Preschool aged kids can be more involved by:
- Cleaning fruits and vegetables.
- Whisking ingredients together.
- Cracking an egg.
- Cutting soft food such as some cheeses and fruits with a butter knife.
As they are learning to read, you should also allow them to practice by reading out the ingredients and directions in the recipe book.
Older children can handle more responsibility. If you are comfortable and after discussing knife safety, you can teach them how to use knives to cut ingredients. They can also:
- Peel potatoes.
- Mix ingredients with a hand held beater.
- Count and measure (this is an excellent way to teach them conversion and measuring by weight).
Once the meal is prepared, it’s time to clean up! Cleaning up is an important habit, teaching your kids responsibility and independence.
Very young children can wipe counters with a towel and sort clean utensils.
Preschoolers can fill the sink or dishwasher with soap, sweep the floor with a broom and wipe down counters using nontoxic cleansers.
Older children can wash the dishes or put dishes into the dish washer. They can then put dishes away once clean.
Teaching your kids how to be little cooks does take patience. But by getting kids involved in the kitchen, you are helping them develop important life skills and develop a positive relationship with food.
Two easy and fun recipes to try with your kids:
English Muffin Pizza
- 1 split English Muffin
- Pizza sauce
- Pizza cheese (shredded)
- Your favourite toppings (mushrooms, pepperoni, green pepper, pineapple, bacon, etc.)
- Toast your English muffins.
- Spread pizza sauce evenly on muffin halves.
- Sprinkle cheese on top and add your toppings!
- Put on tray and put into toaster oven set on broil.
- Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes
Worms in Dirt
- One 16-ounce package Oreo type cookies
- 2 cups cold milk
- 1 package small JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
- 1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping , thawed slightly
- Individual serving cups
- Gummy worms
- Crush cookies in zipper-style plastic bag with rolling pin or in food processor.
- Pour cold milk into large bowl. Add pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in whipped topping and 1/2 of the crushed cookies.
- Place about 1 tablespoon crushed cookies into each cup. Fill cups about 3/4 full with pudding mixture. Top with remaining crushed cookies.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with gummy worms just before serving.