Kids are much more able in the kitchen than you might think. Believe it or not, my kiddos can do everything from perfectly crack an egg to brown a pound of ground beef. Sure, it took some practice—and lots of patience! But because we all try to have a good attitude (and…let’s face it…I have a handheld vacuum), we successfully navigate our way through recipes every day. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for every age.
Birth to Age Two
When my kiddos were babies, I would pull them up to the kitchen counter, hand them a rubber spatula to bang around, and just let them watch me cook in the kitchen. As I worked, I talked to them about the names of the foods we were using, pointed out the bright colors and different shapes, and had them feel the various textures. Even when they were too young to talk, I made sure to tell them a lot about food and show them how much fun cooking was.
- Tasting is such a big key to cooking with kids! No matter what I prepared, I always had some spoons on hand to let them (safely) taste the ingredients. As they watch you cook, they taste…and they learn.
Toddlers and Preschoolers
- Plastic knives and soft foods are so great for toddlers and preschoolers in the kitchen! I give my kiddos a plastic knife (so they won’t cut themselves) and then something soft to cut (like bread, bananas, or avocados). Super simple—and they feel totally involved in the food prep.
- My kids learned a phrase that I still say over and over again: “Low and slow.” I let my toddlers and preschoolers start out by stirring stuff in our mixing bowls, reminding them to stir low and slow. (Keep the spoon low in the bowl, and stir slowly to avoid spilling.)
- Pouring is perfect for kids this age! I measure out the ingredients—both liquid and dry—and let the kiddos pour away. Sure, sometimes spills happen, but they wipe up quickly, and the little ones are having so much fun that it’s totally worth the mess.
- My kiddos can crack an egg better than some adults! And you know how they learned? Lots of practice! I let my kids practice cracking eggs over an empty bowl just for the experience. My rule of thumb? Use your thumbs. Crack the egg on the hard side of your bowl and then use your thumbs to break away the shell. After some practice, my kids could crack eggs into the bowl without any shell getting inside. Practice makes perfect when it comes to eggs!
- The “low and slow” rule comes into play with beaters too! My kids know how to attach the beaters to the electric mixer and mix together ingredients. Keeping things low and slow avoids spilling. Kids are fascinated by how the ingredients change as they all get mixed together. Super simple entertainment—and super fun!
- Kids this age can brown meat too. At first, I started by showing them how I brown a pound of ground beef. That’s right—low and slow, which prevents grease spattering. After they watched me do it, they practiced stirring once the meat was nearly browned. Soon enough, they were browning it themselves from start to finish.
Taken from: Mix-and-Match Mama Kids in the Kitchen: Crazy-Fun Recipes to Make Memories Together. Copyright © 2017 by Shay Shull. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon. www.harvesthousepublishers.com. Used by Permission.
About the author:
Shay Shull is the author of the Mix and Match Mama blog, Mix-and-Match Mama Eats, Mix-and-Match Meal Planner, and Mix-and-Match Cakes. She writes about motherhood, adoption, world travel, holidays, organization, and, of course, yummy food. Shay lives in McKinney, Texas, with her husband, Andrew, and their four kids: Kensington, Smith, Ashby, and Madeley.