Kids in the kitchen? It is a wonderful way to teach children about eating, food, and cooking, particularly at an early age. This also helps instill self-confidence when you allow children to help you prepare food for the family. Many kids that are allowed to participate in the cooking and preparation of meals may go on to pursue culinary arts and will have some skills to carry them into their own adulthood.
According to Berkel Sales and Service, to instill a love of cooking, try the following tips and cooking ideas:
Familiarize Children with Food
Children will be more inclined to try something new and different if they help to prepare it. For instance, have kids assist with slicing cured meats and exotic cheeses to create their own antipasto platter. These Italian staples are a menagerie of delicacies, and are perfect for sampling and tasting new and unfamiliar foods. Since there is no cooking involved, it is a great creation for kids that requires only slicing with adult supervision. Kids will enjoy arranging the food on a platter. This is a great way for kids to learn proper knife safety and use and will get them familiar with being in the kitchen.
Expand Kids’ Palates
Bring home something different, food that might be unusual or unconventional in the home. For instance, pick up some calamari or a different kind of fish, and have your children help you prepare it for dinner. Adults that make blanket statements, such as “I don’t like fish”, typically did not have a lot of seafood served in their homes growing up. Kids will try something if they help to cook it. Teach them to do a simple preparation such as wrapping the fish in parchment, topping it with chopped tomatoes, herbs, or veggies, and a drizzle of oil. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
Provide Positive Reinforcement
Comment on your young chefs on their attempts rather than reprimand them for their culinary errors. Stress safety in this potentially dangerous area of the home, but don’t criticize their unique choices when it comes to their recipes. This could dash their spirit and reduce their love of cooking. If they use too many herbs in a dish, have a taste-test session of different herbs. Allow them to sample a bit of dried or fresh herbs to taste the differences; this might make them a bit less heavy-handed when using them next time.
Let Them Be Creative and Try New Recipes
Give kids a cookbook and let them find new dishes to prepare for the family. Have them choose a couple, make a list of what they will need for them, and let them prepare the meal for the family to try. Some great practice dishes are meatloaf, lasagna, and stews. These are dishes that they can put a creative spin on, adding new ingredients and trying something different.
Practice Patience in the Kitchen
It may seem easier at times to forgo the help from your kids and simply do the cooking yourself. Try to take an approach of patience. Take a deep breath, have a glass of wine, and let them cook for you. It helps to precook a couple of pounds of pasta and keep this in the refrigerator. You can let your kids make a unique pasta dish using veggies, cold cuts, or cheeses, without needing your undivided supervision. Or, hang around while they create a roux, from butter and flour, and help them to create a sauce that they can then doctor up with their own veggies or other ingredients. You really can’t go wrong with pasta and sauce!
There are numerous benefits that come from teaching and assisting kids in the kitchen, and it is an effort that helps instill confidence and self-esteem. It may also lead to an enhanced knowledge surrounding nutrition, which may contribute to overall health and well-being. Many great and renowned chefs were once children who were allowed to help out in the kitchen; get your kids cooking, too!