Cooking with children can be such a rewarding and fun way to spend quality time with your children. Of my three children, my daughter is the one most interested in joining me in the kitchen on a regular basis. Cooking and writing her own cookbooks gets her all super excited. Her love for cooking started around age four. She was always at my side ready and eager to help me in the kitchen. At that time, cooking with her was a bit of a tricky and time-consuming affair. There was no doubt I needed a heaping dose of patience as I watched her small hands measure a cup of this or a spoon of that, especially on a busy weeknight. Now that she is almost eight, however, she has turned into quite the mini sous chef. She is still eager to help me cook, but now, I am so thankful to have her help me. She can help me with one part of the meal while I focus on another dish or task. Sure I am teaching her a valuable life skill, but I see it has awakened her entrepreneurial spirit as well. She has decided to become a chef and restaurateur when she grows up. In fact, she has mapped out all the various stages of her career. When she turns 16, she will become a waitress so that she can learn what it takes to “be the boss” as she says. Next, she’ll become manager and then later, start suggesting her recipes to the executive chef. She has also decided to study culinary arts in Paris, France.
A daughter studying food in Paris? I could not have asked for anything better. (Thank you, Sweet Jesus!) Talking through her plans gets us both excited. And because every successful chef has to start somewhere, I relish in the opportunity to allow her passion for cooking flourish. Over the years, I have managed to make the best of cooking with kids. Today, I thought I would share my tips with you.
Tips For Cooking With Kids & Inspiring Your Mini Chef
- Safety first, always. Remind your kids of the safety rules before you start cooking. Keep the safety rules simple: wash hands before cooking or after touching meat or eggs, and never go near the hot stove.
- Find a safe spot to have your kids help you. My kids have a spot in the kitchen where they can easily help me without getting in my way or near the stove.
- Start with easier recipes that are “forgiving” if your child adds a little extra or too little of one ingredient. You’ll notice that your child will take pride in their dish. If it doesn’t taste good after all their hard work, you may discourage them from trying to cook again. There are some really great cookbooks made with junior chefs in mind, but you don’t need to limit yourself to just those cookbooks.
- Assign age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen. Kids between 3-5 are great at putting in the ingredients that you have pre-measured. They also love to mix. Older kids are good at measuring and gathering the ingredients, and reading or following simple recipe directions.
- Every chef needs the right tools in the kitchen. My kids have their own aprons and a stool to help them reach the counter.
- Give yourself enough time to prep and make the food. You won’t be able to rush through the process, and if you try to, you’ll stress yourself and the kids out.
- Have fun with it! Cooking is a great activity for kids, one that you both will cherish doing together!
Do you cook with your kids? What are some of your tips for working with your mini-sous chef in the kitchen?
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