Supervision is the key to cooking with kids… they develop cooking skills at different rates so it’s important to have an adult introduce children to skills that match their ability levels. Preparing meals can be more fun and a lot of help when the whole family is involved. Try the following:
- Require washing hands before helping or independent cooking experiences.
- Encourage cooperation in the kitchen clean-up.
- Stress safety with cutting tools, ovens, stove tops and appliances.
- Provide simple recipes and instructions.
- Have ingredients on hand for spur-of-the-moment cooking opportunities.
- Be available for help.
Ages 3 to 5 years:
- Encourage to “help”-pour or dump ingredients when making cookies, Jell-O etc.
- Let them have their own set of measuring cups and spoons for the sandbox and wading pool or bath.
- Let them tear lettuce for salad, wash fruits and vegtables together.
- Enjoy the clean-up…Let them help wash or dry the dishes.
Ages 4 to 7 years:
- Allow them to measure some of the ingredients, such as flour, water, or sugar.
- Allow them to sift dry ingredients.
- Let them spread butter or peanut butter on bread for sandwiches.
- Let them stir the batter for muffins, cakes, or pancakes.
- Children this age can learn to set the table correctly.
- Ask for decisions such as chocolate or white cake, oatmeal or vanilla cookies.
Ages 6 to 8 years:
- Let them chop nuts for cookies using a Food Chopper.
- Children can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches using a tool that will cut and seal for a mess free sandwich.
- Allow them to open cans and drain, using a strainer for cans without the mess.
- Let them grate carrots and raisins and other salads.
- Let them frost cookies or cupcakes.
- Show them how to peel potatoes, carrots and apples with a vegatable peeler.
- Children can use a table knife to cut up cooked potatoes or other soft foods.
Ages 8 to 12 years:
- Let children this age mix and bake cookies or a cake from a mix, supervising the removal from the oven, setting the oven temperature and timer, and use the mixer, if used.
- Mix together potato or macaroni salad, including chopping onion, pickle and other ingredients.
- Turn pancakes or French toast on the griddle.
- Allow them to make biscuits, Jell-O, pizza or macaroni and cheese or other pre-packaged convenience foods with minimal supervision.
- Presuming they have done the above, let kids this age bake brownies or cakes independently.
- Encourage them to make an item for a family meal.
- Incorporate the “science” of cooking, such as what happens with yeast and other leavening agents, and keeping sauces and custards smooth.
- Encourage kids this age to make something as a gift for a teacher, relative or friend.
- Encourage learning to prepare a “show off” dish they can fix independently when their own friends come over for dinner. Chili, BBQ beef or chicken, omelets, pizza and soft tacos or taco salad are all suitable and easy.
For Great kitchen products that will enable kids to do a good job in the kitchen, eliminating the frustration and impatience because they can “do it themselves” please visit www.noelskitchen.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for some suggestions on great chef products for kids. What do YOUR children do in the kitchen? Please share and let me know!