Mamacita, Durga Singh gives some quick tips to engage kids in the kitchen. Cooking with kids can be really fun!
I have a confession to make… I hate cleaning up a messy kitchen.
Preparing a meal is totally a cakewalk because I love cooking and I guess I’m quite efficient with it too(at least in my own head). But what I completely detest is the cleaning up after meals. And yes, like every mom, it scared me to see kids in the kitchen. I just couldn’t focus and constantly worry that they will hurt themselves or spill something all over. Cooking with kids can be so daunting sometimes.
But over the years, I have managed to train my kids to help me in the kitchen in the most efficient and fun way. With a lot of practice and patience, my daughter has mastered the art of flipping pancakes and chopping veggies. The younger one still has a long way to go. We’ll get him there slowly but surely. With all my bittersweet experiences, here I am listing some easy peasy tips for cooking with kids.
Tip 1. Let them observe
I have stationed a step stool in my kitchen just in case any of my munchkins want to peek in. When they were young, I used to have their high-chair in the kitchen. I make sure that I place them away from stoves and cutting tools when they are observing. I talk like a chef and tell them everything I am doing – step by step to keep them engaged. This has helped them in learning and identifying many vegetables, fruits, and spices.
Tip 2. Go Bananas … Peeling time! Peeling is one of the most fun activities for my kids in the kitchen. I started training them with oranges and bananas. As they got better, I started giving them hard-boiled eggs and boiled potatoes (after cooling them for sure). Now whenever I give them a couple of boiled eggs to peel, they ask me, “Mom are we having egg curry again?”.
Tip 3. Salt or Sugar
Teaching kids how to balance food with just the right amount of salt or sugar is really stimulating. I started schooling them with a simple lemonade recipe. Sometimes we would experiment with how too much salt or too little sugar can change the taste of the lemonade. Of course, their favorite part of the whole process has always been squeezing juicy lemons.
Tip 4. Smoothie it up
My kids love smoothies. Our favorite is a strawberry yogurt smoothie. Washing and coring of the strawberries is the time-consuming part. I instruct them to put everything in the blender, top it off with sugar if they like, blend it (blending being my part to play) and pour…
Tip 5. Egg oh my – let’s get messy
Cracking an egg is tricky for most of us. I just put a paper towel below a bowl and ask them to crack the egg in the bowl using their fingers. Making omelets, pancakes, or cookies.. it’s always going to be messy. It’s vital to let kids touch and feel different textures to stimulate their brains. I generally move the cookie making activity near the sink area and ask them to mix the dough. They do go wild with the cookie mix… play with it like clay dough. But at the end of it all, who doesn’t like a treat of a yummy star or bear-shaped golden brown cookies.
Tip 6. Floreting
This is another easy task for kids. My kids enjoy separating florets of cauliflower and broccoli. All I have to do is wash and chop of the stem and the big florets before I give them the task.
Tip 7. Simple breakfast
There is nothing wrong with simple bread-butter-jelly. On many Sundays, we have eaten breakfast in bed brought to us by our kids… featuring bread, butter, and jelly with orange juice (with lots of spills and oopsies ). Teach your kids to make their own simple breakfast with cheese, butter, jelly, or simple veggie sandwiches with some salad and mayo.
Tip 8. Toppings please!
I am one of those moms who prefers that kids eat homemade pizzas. Over the years, my daughter has realized that the homemade pizza I make is nothing but the humble ROTI (chapati) pizza. But she still loves it. My kids are always excited to choose their own toppings with cheese (which I prep mostly) and drizzle it on their pizza. Cook pizzas with your kids and let them choose their own toppings,
Cooking with kids should not have to be too complicated. There are many more ways you can indulge your kids in cooking and eating healthy food. But that’s a topic for some other day. And yeah, I sometimes do spend twice as long cleaning up the kitchen after dinner as spent on cooking. But like always… it’s totally worth it!
What are your experiences cooking with kids? Do you have any food recipes that are easy to cook with children? How do you spend time and do activities with kids? Share with us in the comments.