Some of the best memories from my childhood are from when I was in the kitchen helping my mom, or out in the garden with my grandpa. I loved helping, and felt a sense of pride in the work I would do. Now that I am a mom, I try to remember those memories as I’m getting dinner ready and think “clearing the kids out” would be easier. We recently did a podcast on how “having no time” is one of the reasons for not building a food storage. One of the things we recommended for this problem, is to get your kids involved and helping so that food storage projects can become family activities.
This picture is of me and my dear Grandpa up in Northern Quebec twenty something years ago. My Grandpa had a green thumb. He could plant and harvest almost anything in the coldest weather. I loved going to visit him, to help him, and to learn from him. My mom was also an incredible example to me about teaching children how to cook (among other things). I remember pinching around the edges of hundreds of pies she would bake. That was my absolute favorite job. I tried to make those pies as beautiful as she could. I didn’t love grating cheese, but I loved making my own mini pizzas, picking strawberries, and mixing up the cookie dough.
A few months ago, two out of three of my boys were on growth spurts. I kid you not these little people were eating more than me and I felt like I was cooking ALL day, everyday just to keep up with them. I even said something about it on our facebook page, and several of our readers suggested teaching the boys how to cook so that one day I wouldn’t have to as much. I LOVED this idea. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of involving them more in the kitchen before that. Since then I try to make a new food each Sunday with my boys and have them help make it with me. The past few weeks have been pretty hectic with family parties, and dinners and the other day my older boy asked “When are were going to have cooking class again?”. Touche. My boys also love to garden. For Easter my son received gardening tools from one Grandma, and for his birthday a gardening kit from his other Grandma. He was thrilled.
Today I wanted to share a few tips I have thought of or learned from others. Please feel free to leave comments with your ideas as well.
Ideas to get your kids involved?
- Do age appropriate activities
- Have young kids dump ingredients into mixes, they love it
- Assign children to find ingredients off a recipe card and put them all on the counter
- Teach kids how to read recipe cards
- Relax about the mess
- Assign jobs to each kid that they do regularly and can be the expert on
- For older kids, test their math on some of the recipes and congratulate them on solving problems
- When working with dough, pull off small parts and let the kids make their own mini foods
- Teach kids basic cooking concepts as you go such as checking to see if something is done, or how to thicken things etc
- Kids love to push buttons, let them set the timer for baking things
- When making pies, or baked goods allow the kids to shape things
- Use your kids for kneading and mixing things
- Gradually let kids complete more and more steps of a recipe until they can do it themselves
- Have kids tear lettuce, peel hard boiled eggs, grate cheese (if old enough)
- When gardening, get kids their own gloves and tools
- Have the kids pull weeds (although they may not get excited about this one)
- Have your child keep a watering schedule for plants and help them take ownership
As a friendly reminder, when cooking with kids make sure to teach them some kitchen safety and always supervise them 🙂
-Jodi Weiss Schroeder