Top tips for cooking with kids
The kitchen is the heart of most homes. It’s the place we gather. This makes sense because food brings people together. After all food is a central theme of most holidays and celebrations. And cooking (or baking) is a great way to spend time as a family. So, let’s get cookin’.
Cultivate your child’s interest in cooking by turning them into a foodie who tries lots of flavors and has some simple kitchen skills. Kids love to be busy, so invite them to become your sous chef with their own tools and tasks. Arrange a cabinet or shelf that is just for your child and their "kitchen tools." Be mindful that your child’s favorite toys may be the spoons, pots and pans from your kitchen. Add plastic containers and lids to the mix.
Add fun learning
Read a recipe while you cook and count the number of ingredients. This helps your child practice early literacy skills of listening and asking questsions, as well as a little math. You can also read food-themed books (The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a classic). Put groceries away together and talk about what you might make with the ingredients. Model cooking strategies like stirring and cutting as you play in the library's toy kitchen together.
Time to cook
When it's time to choose a recipe and grab an apron always practice kitchen safety, especially with young children. Be sure to supervise your child in the kitchen. Plan recipes for snack time and mealtime that fit their attention span. Good recipe ideas include homemade dips, fruit salad, yogurt parfait and muffins.
Look for cooking tasks or jobs your child will enjoy. These include adding ingredients, using a cookie cutter, sprinkling pepperoni onto a pizza, washing fruit, stirring ingredients and tossing salads. Everyone loves compliments, so encourage your child and praise them for a job well done.
Share the full experience of being in your kitchen. As you are cooking dinner or baking cookies, encourage your child to taste and sample alongside you. Note the smell of spaghetti or spices like cinnamon. Listen to the snap of green beans. Give food special names – broccoli becomes "little trees."
Introduce your child to new flavors and foods from around the world. Food provides the opportunity to travel without even leaving our home. Pick up some cookbooks for kids (we have several) for new ideas and to give your child the chance to help pick recipes. Happy cooking!