The process of learning to cook is something every child should start at some point. Of course, you want them to have a basic knowledge of how cooking and preparing food works, along with the ability to not hurt themselves when they start to use knives, the stove, and/or oven.
But even before they are ready for the actual cooking part, there are many other ways they can safely help cook. This serves a dual purpose- it helps you and teaches them.
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Here is a list I’ve compiled of 7 ways my kids have helped me cook- without knives or heat.
This can include things such as scrubbing a pepper with a vegetable brush or rinsing rice. These tasks are a little tedious and if the kids help while you focus on another part of the meal, everything can come together faster.
Designating your child to gather the necessary ingredients or read the recipe- if they can do so reliably- will cut out a minute or 2 of running around/double-checking for you, and gets them accustomed to following recipes.
This teaches kids to have a steady hand when they are pouring something in a measuring cup, as well as lets them practice the math skills they learn in school, especially when you are doubling or halving a recipe!
Kids seem to love this part, and with some recipes it actually does require a few minutes to do.
Whether it’s bananas for banana bread, beans for bean burgers, or mashed potatoes, you can put those small arms to work with a masher. Just be careful any foods you cook prior to mashing, such as potatoes, are cool enough, (as well as the pot or container they’re in,) so they can’t get burned. Also, you want to make sure your kids don’t put too much strength into it, where they are in danger of pulling a muscle or flipping the bowl over.
If a recipe calls for rolling out dough for pizza crust, pie, etc., this is something your kids can help with. The same goes for rolling cookie dough into balls and placing them on the cookie sheet. Just make sure they know not to eat the dough and they wash their hands well afterwards.
You will want to make sure your kids are careful enough/old enough before they do this, but it’s a great stepping-stone to using a knife. They can peel hard-boiled eggs, (just make sure they are cooled enough) vegetables, use a grater to grate cheese or carrots, and more.
Getting your kids involved in meal preparation in ways safe for their age is great for their learning experience. It’s also an easy way to spend time with them during necessary day-to-day activities. Many kids also have a desire to ‘help’.
And when they get old enough to make entire recipes by themselves, they’ll already have a lot of the skills needed to do it, and understand what many of the terms and tools mean that recipes refer to. You will be preparing them for success in adulthood!
Each child is different, and it’s important to take into consideration their age, capability, and level of responsibility. You want to make sure they are safely away from anything you’re doing with knives or heat while they are helping you. And it’s essential to teach them about food safety, both with how to do things, and what foods could be harmful to them before they’re cooked.
I enjoy having (safe) help in the kitchen, and our kids love to be a part of it. Hopefully this gives you some ideas for your children, so your kids can safely help cook as well.
P.S. You can get your FREE copy of our Printable Flavorful Meal Plan Guide here, so you can plan easy, tasty, budget-friendly meals your kids can help with.
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