Learning to cook and bake — and even how to be a smart shopper — has so many inherent benefits for our kids. But taking the time to use those skills to help someone else harnesses the true spirit of the kitchen. Use this special time to show your child that while it’s fun and delicious, it’s also about sharing, caring, and helping others.
People often think of winter as the best time to volunteer, and while there is a great need during this season, the truth is that food pantries and soup kitchens need help all year long. Consider looking up food nonprofits in your area and see if they take donations of canned goods or even fresh-baked food. Using newfound kitchen skills to help others in this tangible way will give little chefs a real confidence boost — and remind them that food is a basic need for all people. Need some ideas? Check out volunteermatch.org.
2. Make a care package for a soldier overseas
Believe it or not, there is a way to bring the joy of food to US soldiers overseas. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the US Postal Service can send care packages to soldiers stationed in other countries, but there are some specific requirements. Do some research on the USDA website, and then make a package of special goodies to send to a soldier fighting far away from home.
3. Bring a meal to a friend
Everyone has times in their lives when they could use a helping hand. Maybe it’s an aunt who just had surgery or a friend with a newborn baby — these are the times to step up and pitch in. If you’re considering bringing dinner or treats to a friend who could really use one less thing on their plate, let your child take an active role in the process. Cooking and baking with someone else in mind will go a long way to flexing those empathy muscles — and giving your little chef a sense that their hard work matters.
4. It’s your turn
Sometimes a little act of kindness can go a long way. You don’t have to go far from your own kitchen to teach your child the importance of considering the feelings of others. If your little chef is new to helping out at home, it’s OK to start small. You can designate one night a week when your child is “on duty” — either to help go shopping, cook the main meal, or even just set the table. When “helping out” becomes part of your family’s regular routine, the benefit to you, your child, and the whole family is priceless.