Survival Tips for Kid-Friendly Cooking

QUICK AS CAN BE. That is the essence of kid-friendly cooking.

My two kiddos love to help in the kitchen. But mine are both preschoolers. How do you encourage time together in the kitchen when they are touching and getting into everything you are doing?  My answer: it doesn't happen everyday but we schedule cooking/kitchen time together at least once a week.
My experience is that the rewards are well worth the effort-you are building yummy memories!

Here are some {little project tips:}

Be organized:
*Have all your ingredients out before you begin. Your patience gets thin as theirs does-QUICK AS CAN BE is the goal!
*Use mixes. Mixes are marvelous for the youngest helpers. Make your own mixes ahead of time see this LINK for some ideas) or use the store bought cake mix for cupcakes, etc. Depending on the age of your kitchen helpers' attention span, mixes make memories positive in the kitchen.

Keep it Clean:
* Wash those hands first, then keep a wash cloth, wet wipe, (and maybe hand sanitizer) nearby. 
* You know they are going to touch everything. This way it won't bother you so much. It's a pain to get little kids to the sink over and over. 
* And you know that the sensory experience is part of what they crave. So be ready to clean 'em up as you go.

*Cover them up: kid friendly aprons or too-big t-shirts work great.

Keep it safe:
*Make sure that children are away from the heat element and sharp objects. Stirring is a great way for kids to help.
*If things need to be chopped, do it beforehand.

Let them see:
*Turn the light on in the oven.
*Work on a low table so kids can see what is happening.

*Explain what you are doing.
*Tell them what the ingredients taste like, or how they affect the recipe.
*Talk about colors and flavors.

Let kids taste ingredients (only safe ones).  This is a great way to learn about flavors and how each ingredient is important.
Kids love to see and taste the "fruits" of their labor!

Keep it simple:
Sometimes we just go for the regular sugar cookies dropped on the sheet (see below.)  That way the kids can do the scooping and dropping and it doesn't matter how things look or turn out.  The more kids feel ownership in what you are making the more they will enjoy it.  Keep  it simple enough that they can do a lot of the steps. 

Being prepared will help make this experience more enjoyable for everyone.  I can't "cook" with my kids yet.  Dinnertime really isn't a good teaching time because they are hungry.  We schedule our cooking times when everyone is ready for a yummy little project.  And then I just plan to have a little clean-up project as well...that's part of having kids in the kitchen.
So far, we make snacks and treats together and we've had some yummy Little Projects and hopefully these {Little Tips} are helpful for you too ;)

P.S.  My friend has a fun food blog with great recipes and tips for cooks of any size.  Check out Smitten With My Kitchen!


kw said...

This is a GREAT post! I am going to let my husband read it. He does a lot of cooking, too, and he never lets the kids help. I think it is because he doesn't "know" how to do it. Now he can! Thanks!

elspeth said...

Jocelyn has always helped in the kitchen. She has gotten to the point were she is very helpful. She loves to stir. We started out stirring frozen juice. She could make juice all by herself. She's been really good at stirring at the stove and has been doing more and more of that now too. She's never burned herself. Anytime I make anything, she likes to help now. She loves it when she can do things herself. I have to be very firm if I ever want a turn. She can even make scrambled eggs all by herself now (impressive for a 3 year old). Other ways she helps are in setting and clearing the table. I fill the measuring cups and spoons and she pours, she cookie cuts anything she can (biscuits as well as cookies etc.) and loves to start the microwave. I can't wait until she can make dinner all by herself, and neither can she!

DairyQueen said...

thanks for the encouragement! We are planning to make tulip cupcakes today (It's so easy to talk yourself out of such projects as these)

Melissa said...

I love the idea of getting all the ingredients out first. Quick really is best!

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