I love to cook with my kids, not just because it’s a fun family activity, but because it inspires them to try new foods, and gives them a real sense of empowerment as they learn new skills. They cherish the special time we spend together in the kitchen and I love that we are creating memories (and food!) together. Cooking with kids (especially if you have more than one!) can be a bit tricky. Here are my top tips for making sure it all goes smoothly and is a good experience for everyone:
- Read over the recipe and set out all the ingredients before you invite the kids into the kitchen to get cooking. Being organized ahead of time is key to everything going smoothly. For very small children, have things pre-measured. Older children can get involved in the measuring and improve their math skills in the process!
- If you are cooking with two children and you would like them to both be involved in all the steps of the recipe, you can split the ingredients in half, so that they get the chance to each make a half batch, bringing the full recipe together at the end if necessary. For activities like making cookies, give each child a piece of dough to roll out, their own set of cookie cutters, and their own set of icing and decorations. Avoiding arguments is worth the extra set up.
- When making sweet treats, kids understandably will want to taste the sweet ingredients, so I find it helps to agree ahead of time on how much they can have. For example, if we’re making chocolate chip cookies, I will give them each a dish with a number of chocolate chips we’ve agreed upon, that they can eat while we’re baking. This stops them pestering me and makes the whole experience more enjoyable for all of us.
- Choose a recipe that doesn’t require time at the stove. If you are at the stove for much of the recipe, it’s hard to keep an eye on what the kids are up to and they might get bored waiting for you. As a general rule, stovetop cooking isn’t safe for young children to help with, so choose a recipe where they can be safely and actively involved for most of the steps.
- Take the time to teach your children how to use kitchen equipment safely, then let them go for it, keeping a watchful eye, of course. It’s up to you to decide when your child can use a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife because you know them best, but keep in mind that children can do so much more than we often realize and trusting them to do grown-up tasks in the kitchen can be very empowering for them.
- Don’t let the inevitable mess get under your skin, and try not to get upset if there are sudden spills. Cooking with kids is messier than cooking alone. This is a fact and it is best to just accept it and go with the flow! It will only take a few extra minutes to clean up anyway. Get them to help you mop up small messes. Younger kids will often see this as fun rather than a chore. Remember, the whole experience of cooking together is meant to be fun, and it won’t be if you get on edge because of the mes
Leah is the founder and Brand Leader of Love Child Organics and mom to 6 year old Poppy and 3 year old Cam. Leah’s philosophy when cooking for her family is the same as her philosophy when creating innovative products for Love Child Organics. Include only nutrient-rich real food, leave out unnecessary “empty” ingredients, and make sure it tastes delicious! Her upcoming Love Child Organics’ cookbook, It All Begins With Food, will be released by Appetite by Random House in the spring of 2017.