Friday, March 14, 2014

6 Suggestions for Cooking with KIDS

I used to hate when my kids wanted to help in the kitchen.  I hated the extra mess and the spills.  I tried to continue teaching them to cook but it just wasn't fun for me.  I had two experiences that really changed my attitude about cooking with the kids.

1. One day I yelled so much at my daughter while cooking, because she was making so many messes and I was late trying to take dinner to someone else, that she stopped wanting to help me cook.  For several months, I would ask her to help me and she would just say "NO, I don't want to help."  It took me a while to figure out what I had done and asking her to forgive me, before she was even willing to help with the simplest things in the kitchen.

2.  With my 4th pregnancy, I got really sick at the beginning of my pregnancy.  My husband was a full time student and was often gone.  My two oldest daughters ended up cooking a lot of meals for our family with me instructing them from the couch on what to do.  I was so grateful that they had been learning the basic of how to cook so that they didn't have to just eat cold cereal and PB and J's. 

I do not profess to be an expert on cooking with kids but here are  a few simple suggestions
I recommend in COOKING WITH KIDS!!
Always remember that your kids are going to make a mess when cooking.  If you think about it most likely so do you!!  When cracking eggs kids are most likely going to leave a shell in.  So to prevent frustrations, have them crack the eggs in a smaller bowl and then show them out to get the shells out with a spoon.  Kids are going to spill
flour on the floor so wait to mop the floor til you are done cooking.  They are going to most likely spill the last of the chocolate chips so remember to have extra ingredients when the kids help. And most important............
Remember to keep the recipe simple.  Teach them to make scrambled eggs, toast, stir the noodles, peel potatoes or flip pancakes.  I also taught my girls how to use a knife to level off the flour or sugar so there is not excess.  Teaching simple steps make it easier for them to learn. Even if you have a hard time with kids in your kitchen, try taking baby steps and before you know it you can kick your feet up and watch them make you dinner.
Start Young!!  My almost three year old loves to pour things in the bowl. She loves to stir.  She loves to roll the cookies in a ball.  She loves to use her rolling pin and she can roll a pretty good crescent roll.  She loves to start the kitchen aid mixer.   She can crack an egg too but we just EXPECT A MESS at this age and leave that for mom to do.
It is so important to Make it FUN while cooking.  My daughter was completely shocked one day when I threw flour on her face, when I had started to get frustrated with cooking with her.  It was a fun moment for all who joined into our flour fight. Use your cookie cutters, food coloring or other fun recipes when cooking with kids.  Listen to fun music while cooking.  Keep the mood light and don't stress so much about the end result.  It's just food!!!

My husband is really great at (teaching by example) always telling me "Thanks for this delicious dinner."  Very rarely does a meal go by that one of my kids miss telling me the same phrase. The world is filled with so much negative, the best thing we can do is Praise them for what they are doing right.  "Good Job on not getting any shells from the eggs in the bowl."  "You flipped that pancake so good." "It looks great."  Teach with love.  Try showing them easier ways to do something.  Let go of your expectations or the way that it "SHOULD" be.  You just might come up with a new recipe or a better way of doing something. 

I think the worse part of cooking is cleaning up. But try to teach your kids that clean up is just part of the recipe you are making.  Try to clean up as you go.  When baking cookies race against the timer to see if you can get the mess cleaned up before the cookies are done.  Start cooking with a sink full of soapy water so that you can wash the dishes as soon as you are done.

Happy Cooking!




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