New Year’s resolution: get your kids in the kitchen!
Start your new year off right: this year, resolve to get your kids in the kitchen with you!
Image source: Fotologic
If you're resolving to get your kids cooking with you more often in 2015, congratulations! This is an awesome resolution. It's also a serious resolution, in that you have to be willing to commit a bit of time to make it happen on a regular basis. Here’s the truth—this resolution will change every day of your year ahead for the better (specifically, at the three times a day when you prepare a meal!) Success with this resolution doesn't require that you're an amazing chef or have the patience of a zen master. You just need to be willing to seize the moment when they ask, “Are you done making dinner yet?” and say, “You know what? You can help me make it today.” And then use one of the ideas below. Soon, you just might be asking your kids, “Hey, are you done making me dinner yet?".
Below is a list of suggestions for inviting your kids to participate in the kitchen—ranging from the toddler age to teens. Happy New Year's!
Skill level: Beginner
- Let your kids make snacks with you. Snacks are the perfect starter for kitchen participation. Give them a banana to peel, or if they know how to use a butter knife, let them try cutting it in slices. You could also let them combine chopped fruit to make fruit salad or spread peanut butter on their own toast.
- Use the 3 S’s: Stirring, scrubbing and sorting. Even very young children can stir a salad, or scrub a counter top with a rag. And as you finish chopping veggies for soup or stir fry, have your little one sort the different veggies into different plastic containers. Then, they can hand them to you as you add them to soup.
- Make like a cooking show. If they’re still learning skills like pouring, set up ingredients in small dishes (instead of larger containers) so that they can combine them easily. For instance, preschoolers will love making cereal for breakfast if you put their cereal in one small measuring cup and the milk in another measuring cup for them to combine in a bowl. (Bonus: you’ll minimize their chances of spilling!)
Skill level: Intermediate
- Teach them knife skills. The team at Simple Bites has terrific advice for how to teach your kids knife skills—even your toddler!
- Show kids how to read a recipe using illustrated recipes. For a free online source of thousands of illustrated recipes, try They Draw And Cook. Even pre-readers can tell you what foods are pictured, and older kids will have fun de-coding how a recipe works.
- Start an indoor garden. Winter is a fun time for kids to start an indoor kitchen scrap garden from your veggie peelings - ambitious kiddos might even be up for growing a herb or two to cook with.
- Take your kids to see food that’s not in a grocery store. If you have access to an indoor or winter farmer’s market (or better yet, a farm!) this is a great way to teach kids how much work goes into producing and making food. Try We Heart Local’s interactive map to find your nearest local farm.
Skill level: Advanced
- Plan one weekend cooking project with your kids. This is a great opportunity to delve into something more complicated - something that takes time to put together and involves unusual ingredients. Blogger Jenny Rosenstrach calls these “Keep the Spark Alive” meals—meals that remind you why you like cooking in the first place.
- Let your kids plan one meal a week. Pro tip: weekend breakfast might be a great place to start with this goal, since not only is the timing more relaxed and clean up less of an issue, but you might get a chance to enjoy a bit of a lie-in.
- Throw a dinner party for yourselves. Break out the tablecloth, the candlesticks, the conversation. Making dinner a special occasion is a great way to reward yourself for sticking to your resolution.