Kids in the Kitchen

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on April 16, 2009

Jennifer, a Self-Confessed Foodie, shares a few great tips on how to get your kids actively involved in the kitchen!

Yes, that’s me. As you can see, I started helping my mother in the kitchen as soon as I was old enough to respect the word “no”. In this picture I’m about 3 years old and am making pizza crust. Not much has changed since then – I’m quite a bit older, only a little taller, I still love to cook, hate to do dishes and that Cuisinart still works!

Not only is cooking a great way to spend time with your kids but it’s a learning opportunity for them as well. Without letting them near the dangerous equipment like knives and stoves, you can teach them about measurements, nutrition, senses, colors, food safety and ingredients. They can practice their fine motor skills, reading skills, build their vocabulary and learn to appreciate food. You get help in the kitchen. I’m not seeing a downside here!

So what are some great activities for kids in the kitchen?

  • Let them measure dry ingredients or spices
  • Help them create a marinade for chicken or pork
  • Give them a whisk and let them mix batter
  • Show them how to snap the tails off beans
  • Teach them to season meat with salt and pepper
  • Practice fine motor skills by spreading out sauces
  • Roll up the sleeves and form hamburger patties
  • Crack eggs into a small bowl so you can fish out those rebellious shells
  • Have them help make their own lunches

Kids are great at making things like pizzas and lasagnas. If you roll out the dough, kids can easily help you spread out the sauce, cover it with cheese and add on the toppings. Lasagnas are a great lesson in layering – let your children layer cooled noodles, sauce, mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, then you can bake it. Your kids will be so proud when you put the dinner they’ve made on the table!

Don’t forget dessert! Hand the munchkins a whisk and help them make pudding from a box. Show them how to roll out dough for cookies or frost a cake. Give them some sprinkles or icing gel and let them go wild on a batch of cupcakes to share with their friends. It doesn’t matter what the food looks like. What matters is that you and your children had a great time making it together. Are your kids active in the kitchen? Tell us what they love to do!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

gourmetmomma April 16, 2009 at 10:14 am
Sophia April 16, 2009 at 10:25 am

haha! that girl is so cute, on the chair measuring and being all serious cook! I wish my mother had let me in her kitchen when I was young!

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Michelle April 16, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I teach cooking classes to children, and summed up an age appropriate list of tasks kids can do in the kitchen here: http://whatscookingblog.com/2008/01/08/can-they-do-it-yes-they-can/

Not only does cooking together get kids to eat better, but it is such a valuable learning experience, too…math, science, language acquisition, cooperation and improved self esteem!

Thanks for encouraging families to give it a try!

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Steve April 20, 2009 at 2:43 am

Ah cool posting! Kids are more brilliant than us !!

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Meredith April 23, 2009 at 11:19 am

Very cute! I just posted pictures of my kids helping to make cornmeal muffins.
http://stockingthelarder.blogspot.com/2009/04/cornmeal-muffins.html

My best tip for kids in the kitchen? Consider getting small aprons for them. It really saves on laundry!

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