Teaching your kids how to cook is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Read on for my top seven tips for getting them into the kitchen in a healthy way!
Five years ago, the thought of having kids in the kitchen was a major stressor for me. I actually felt sick around clutter and messes. Stepping on crumbs was my nightmare! Fast forward to the present, and I am never alone in my kitchen. Allowing my kids in the kitchen opened up a whole new world for them. Here are my tips for teaching your kids how to cook.
7 Tips for Teaching Your Kids How to Cook
1. Start with their favorite foods
We began with pancakes, then tried some baked goods, and now my kids are cutting veggies, arranging fruit platters, and know most of the ingredients in my cabinets.
2. Manage your own expectations
When Isabella was a baby, I couldn’t wait until she was old enough to bake with me. I could see myself making muffins with her, dressed in our matching aprons, oven mitts on and smiling. Reality check my friends, this image is false.
Allowing kids in the kitchen seemed like a nightmare once I had four little ones afoot. But if you have false expectations, your stress levels will be out of control! I would question why I let them help every single time I tried to include them. I would get mad when they dropped ingredients, upset when they weren’t understanding me, and then mad at myself for ruining the experience. How could they know how to help, if I didn’t teach them properly?
3. Be patient
After many negative experiences, I had a close friend give me some advice I will never forget. She told me, “Don’t sweat the small stuff because things in life are washable. Your house is washable, the kids are washable, and you are washable.” I am so grateful that she told me this, and I say it over and over in my head some days. While I still don’t love messes in the kitchen, I can see past the mess and continue teaching without getting angry.
4. Do set rules
Setting rules is also very important. My youngest started helping at age two. She wasn’t even speaking yet, but could understand the simple rules I was telling her. If she couldn’t follow them, she couldn’t help. The kitchen can be a dangerous place, so kids in the kitchen need to know how to safely use tools and get around without hurting themselves.
5. Invest in kid-friendly tools
I recommend purchasing high-quality kids knives. This will make a huge difference, and they can actually help and feel productive. Liliana can now make her own avocado rose without any help from me. Some of our best memories are being made in the kitchen.
6. Positive reinforcement
If you want your kids to feel joy in the kitchen and continue learning, complimenting their work is important. We let our kids know how awesome their platters come out, how delicious their smoothies taste, and how well they listened. Then I tell them how impressed and proud I am of them, and this is a huge confidence booster. I love when Anthony designs and names a plate. He feels great about himself, and this is so special to see. Isabella dressed up as a chef last week for career day, and I was a very proud mother.
7. Keep cookbooks accessible
My final tip for teaching your kids how to cook is to leave some cookbooks out. I have cookbooks in each of our 6 bookshelves throughout the house, and I also leave two in our kitchen. Although I never use a cookbook for my meals, I love to sit and read them for inspiration. My kids look through them regularly and mark the pages they want to create. They get ideas, ask what ingredients they need, and learn to read recipes. My oldest even asks for new cookbooks for her birthday and Christmas each year.
So what do you think? Are you ready to let your kids in the kitchen? If you ever have any questions, please ask! If you’re ready to get started, you can check out my 7 ways to get your kids in the kitchen.