There are so many benefits of starting your kids in the kitchen EARLY – – I’m talking cooking! Not just heading in there to grab a snack… or two!
Getting your kids involved in the kitchen may be one of the best things you can do for them—and for your relationship with them.
Studies have shown that working with parents or grandparents to prepare meals benefits children in many ways.
- Learning to prepare their own food will help your children build confidence.
- It will help them learn to make healthy choices about what they will eat and become more adventurous about trying new and healthy foods.
- Cooking with your children can strengthen the bond between you and encourage communication, making it more fun and more natural.
Cooking Up Confidence
Children often begin to show interest in helping in the kitchen by the time they are two or three. This is not too young for them to begin helping.
A very young child can snap the ends from green beans + crumble bread for bread crumbs + peel garlic + wash vegetables + learn to measure ingredients and roll out dough + stir mixtures with a spoon… Think about the tasks you can give your child as you sense his or her interest growing.
Just being involved is important + FUN for children this age.
As they grow older, they can learn to take on more difficult tasks like cracking eggs + cutting vegetables + operating appliances, and following a recipe on their own.
Start out with simple recipes so that your child can be encouraged by his or her initial success. Don’t make a huge deal out of spills or imperfections.
Complement them on a job well done.
You are your child’s guide as they learn in the kitchen, but it may surprise you how quickly they will become experts if they enjoy it. Many children soon want to begin experimenting with their own recipes, adding or substituting ingredients and learning which flavors go well together. With encouragement, patience, and room enough to experiment and make mistakes, children learn to complete a task and enjoy results. They learn when to go by the rules and when to break them in a safe environment.
They learn the pride of accomplishment and the joy of giving to others.
Working Up Appetites
Recent studies have proved that children who help with cooking eat more vegetables + more of their dinner.
They are generally more excited to try new things if they have helped to prepare them.
Children enjoy the chance to learn about the food they consume and to choose how and what they will prepare. They want to savor and appreciate their own accomplishments.
Let your child help you decide on menus and allow them to go with you to shop for ingredients. Help them to understand the benefits of each food they choose. Teach them to read labels, and look for ways to do something new with a food they already profess to dislike.
Encourage healthy choices and make it fun
The variety of healthy choices that we enjoy today is huge. Take advantage of it. Don’t always insist they eat a vegetable they don’t yet like.
Children who are offered a choice among healthy foods do better with trying new foods.
Working together in the kitchen is a great way to spend quality time with your child and opens up many opportunities for natural, heart-to-heart conversation. It emphasizes the closeness of family.
It is sometimes easier to broach serious topics when your hands are busy and you are working side by side rather than facing one another.
Lighthearted conversation, laughing and even singing together, tend to flow out of the rhythms of cooking. A relationship built on working and communicating with each other is one that will not be easily shaken when your child or family goes through difficult times or stages.
Building Lifelong Skills
Your children will be able to use the skills they learn in the kitchen with you for the rest of their lives. If you have guided them to try new things and make healthy choices, this will also go with them into adulthood and continue to benefit them.
Getting your children involved in the kitchen will mean more time + more patience + more clean-up. But it will be worth it for them and you in the long run.
And there is no better time than now, with summer upon us, for weekend pancakes! This was and still is a favorite time in the kitchen for my kids. Below is a fun + simple recipe for pancakes, which are a great place to start. It takes only moments to whip these up from start to finish, and while the original recipe is simple and delicious, the possibility for experimentation is almost endless by adding in fruits + nuts + seeds + even chocolate chips once in a while for a special treat!
Enjoy getting your child involved in making these, and play around with the ingredients!
- 2 Cups Sprouted wheat flour
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Cups Organic milk
- 1/2 tsp Coarse sea salt
- 1 Tbsp Baking powder
- 1 Cup Organic blueberries, frozen or fresh
- 8 Tbsp Organic butter
- Maple syrup
Mix all ingredients except butter until smooth.
Heat butter until foaming in a skillet or griddle. Pour about a quarter cup of batter into the pan for each pancake working in small batches. Drop a few blueberries into each pancake as the cook. They will be ready to flip when bubbles start to surface.
Brown on both sides then transfer to a serving plate, adding more butter to the cooking surface as needed. You can keep pancakes warm an oven set to its lowest temperature while you finish cooking.
Top with butter and maple syrup.
Save any extra pancakes, then warm them in the toaster oven or in a pan.
Recipe courtesy of Real Plans
Here’s to making memories in the kitchen!