When it comes to preparing meals, I always have a shadow. My little man has discovered the fun of helping in the kitchen and is always happy to be my assistant chef. He loves to help stir and wash, and is devastated when I dare cook something without him. In addition to being fun, helping out in the kitchen can also be a great learning experience for kids. Not only can they learn to cook, but they can learn about nutrition, measuring, and more. Here are some great tips from Live In Nanny on how to get your kids more involved in the kitchen.
Kids are notoriously picky eaters, and often vehemently oppose foods that they think they don’t or won’t like. One way to get your kids to be more adventurous eaters is to get them involved in the cooking process. When you start getting kids involved in the kitchen while they are young, they tend to not only grow up with a diverse palette and love of food, but a true appreciation for being able to cook.
Try some of these 10 ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen.
- Washing fruits and veggies: Put an apron on your child or wrap a towel around him fastening it with a safety pin. Bring a step up to the sink so that he can reach the sink and the water. Show him how to gently wash fruits like grapes and strawberries. Give him a veggie brush and allow him to scrub down some carrots and potatoes. No fruit or veggie is out of bounds.
- Crack eggs: Bring out a separate glass bowl to crack the eggs into. Show him how to gently tap the side of the egg on the counter. When the egg cracks, take the tips of your fingers and gently pull the egg apart over the bowl. If any of the shell gets into the bowl use one of the egg halves to scoop out the shell. Egg shell pieces also tend to stick to glass so by using a glass bowl, so even if you miss some egg shell when cracking the eggs they will most likely not transfer to the final mixture because they will stick to the side of the bowl instead. This serves as a nice safety net for little cooks. Be sure to have your child wash his hands before and after handling eggs.
- Cut out cookies: Dust the counter with a little flour and roll out some sugar cookie dough. Take a cookie cutter and dip it into some flour. Cut out some cookie shapes and gently move them to an ungreased cookie sheet. An adult should bake them according to the recipe directions.
- Decorate cookies: Once the cut-out cookies have cooled, it’s time to decorate. Using a plastic knife or craft stick scoop out some store bought frosting onto the cookie and spread it all over the cookie. Provide the kids with jimmies, colored sugars, and nonpareils to sprinkle over the cookies. Now it’s time to eat!
- Make some candy: This candy is called fondant and it’s a good place for kids to start because all the mixing is done by hand. In a bowl, place 2 tablespoons of room temperature butter or margarine. Add 1 tablespoon of light corn syrup, ½ teaspoon of vanilla and four little pinches of salt. Have the child stir these ingredients together. Then add 1 cup of powdered sugar to the bowl and have him stir again until it starts coming together. Dump everything onto the counter and have him squish and squeeze the dough together until it’s smooth. Once it’s smooth he can take small pieces of dough and roll it into a ball about the size of a walnut. Continue making balls and place them all on a serving plate. Cover the plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour. Enjoy.
- English muffin pizzas: Toast an English muffin. Place the muffin halves on a greased baking sheet. Provide pizza toppings for your child to use. Start by adding a big spoonful of pizza sauce to the English muffin. Using the back of the spoon spread the sauce all the way to the edge of the muffin. Then top with pepperoni and cheese or any other topping that she likes. Bake the mini pizzas for a fun and nutritious snack.
- Ants on a log: These fun treats are a kid favorite. Start by washing the celery. Cut the celery into approximately 3 inch long pieces. Using a plastic knife or a craft stick, fill the opening in the celery with peanut butter or softened cream cheese. Then put raisins on the top to represent ants.
- Let them stir: Any time you have something that needs stirring, have her stir. Mixing up pancake batter or brownie batter with a spoon is easy to do. Show her how to scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure thorough mixing.
- Grating cheese: Older kids can help grate cheese. Put on a grating glove to protect little fingers. Then show him how to rub the cheese on a box grater and turn the block of cheese from side to side to make it easier to grate. Freezing the cheese for about 20 minutes before grating will make the task easier. Grating your own cheese is a big money saver because block cheese is cheaper than buying it pre-shredded.
- Peeling veggies: Using a vegetable peeler to peel carrots, cucumbers or potatoes is a way that older children can help you get dinner on the table. It also may encourage her to eat more veggies.
While what your child is able to do will depend on her age and level maturity, from washing the veggies to peeling them, there is something everyone can do to help out.
Thanks Live In Nanny!