For little ones, learning to cook may just seem like something fun to do at the moment. But as a parent, you know that it can set them up for a healthy and successful life. Helping out in the kitchen increase the chances that your kids will be more likely to rely on their own cooking skills later in life than to constantly seek out fast food or pre-made dishes that may not be as healthy.
But this doesn’t mean that your children are the only ones who stand to learn lessons in the kitchen. If you’re deeming them kitchen helpers for the first time, here are a few things for you to keep in mind.
Start stirring. Every child needs at least one kitchen memory of dipping his or her fingers in the batter in anticipation of muffins or cupcakes. And luckily, mixing all the ingredients together is a totally safe, totally fun way to get them involved. This process can be a little messy, even when you’re doing it yourself, so just make sure to have plenty of dish towels on hand. And, of course, aprons are a must.
Roll it out. Speaking of baking, helping your kids learn how to use a rolling pin can come in handy for a variety of dishes. Whether you want to make homemade pizza crust, fresh bread or pie crust, rolling dough evenly is an essential part of how your dish will turn out. But make sure to teach them how to flour the rolling pin and emphasise the importance of going slowly and gently so as not to tear the dough.
Cutting edge. If you use a butter knife or a plastic knife, it’s quite okay to let your kids chop soft fruits, vegetables or other items like cheese. You may want to help them get started by doing the work of peeling and halving, but letting them help out with a fruit medley or a salad is a great way to introduce them to working in the kitchen.
Perfect kitchen prep. Most parents let their kids in on the prep work when it’s time to make a meal because that’s the part that no one wants to do. But beyond reducing your own workload in the kitchen, learning how to wash off fruits and vegetables is a skill that may actually prompt them to eat more healthfully in the long run. And setting up dishes and ingredients teaches them the importance of organisation when undertaking a new task.
Get messy. This last tip isn’t so much food-oriented as it is parenting-oriented. But realising that cooking with little ones is an inherently messy process will help you relieve stress over spilt flour or splatters on the floor. Remember to focus more on safety than cleanliness because ultimately, spending an extra five minutes cleaning up after the meal won’t make a world of difference. Cooking with this mindset will also free you up to enjoy yourself more and make valuable memories that you’ll cherish forever.