Teaching kids to cook is important for a number of reasons. For one, it’s a basic life skill. Being comfortable enough to make a simple meal is invaluable. It’s also healthier. Having a couple “easy go-to’s,” even if it’s just scrambled eggs, is better than rummaging through the cabinet for snacks. Cooking also improves a number of skills without kids even knowing, like math, reading, comprehension and fine motor coordination. Most of all, it’s fun and it makes them feel good to be able to create something from scratch. Convinced? Here are 5 great ways to start getting them involved.
1. Let Them Plan
Ask them what they’d like to try so that they’re a part of the process from the start. Have them flip through some cookbooks and websites to see if anything sparks interest. Take them with you to the grocery store. Chances are they’ll find some inspiration there… especially in the baking aisle.
2. Start Off Easy
Build their confidence by giving them a challenge they can tackle without much of a problem. Rice Krispie treats, omelets, and french toast are all great places to start. They involve few ingredients, are hard to mess up, and are easy to enjoy!
3. Do Some Prep
Set things out beforehand, especially if your kids are brand new to the kitchen. For example, pre-measure ingredients so that they can just pour them into a bowl and stir. Cut up veggies in advance and have all the ingredients out of the pantry and on the counter so they’re easy to find and ready to go.
4. Don’t Stress Out
Things are going to get messy. It’s okay. Recipes may not turn out as well as if you’d made them yourself. It’s okay. Be ready for mishaps and know that it’s all part of the learning process. The more they do it, the better they’ll get. Take a deep breath and have fun experimenting.
5. There’s More To It Than Cooking
If your child still isn’t ready, don’t force it. Have them get involved in other ways like setting the table, picking out placemats or even licking the spoon. Every kid is different and any way you can get them engaged is a step in the right direction.