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Do you cook with your children? One awesome way to keep them involved in the family, teach them life skills, and have bonding time is to get kids cooking with you!
In our home, we love to cook together. Cooking with your children is important for many reasons. Here’s why…
About a month into our marriage my husband asked me what might be the most perplexing question of our entire marriage: “Can you cook something not Italian for dinner? I mean, just anything that doesn’t come with sauce or pasta?”
I stared at him, absolutely dumbfounded. “Why?”
Hubby had grown up in a meat and potatoes home and missed that food.
Me? I had never in my life baked a potato, cooked a steak, or even roasted a chicken. I was stymied.
As this was before Pinterest, I headed to the library to get some books out so I could feed him what he was missing.
When I left for college I knew how to make salads, any Italian dish you could imagine, and order take-out. I never had a problem eating (because who doesn’t love chicken parm or mac and cheese), so I didn’t realize how limited my experience was.
That was when I resolved that I would teach any children we had to cook and cook well.
I wanted them to be able to eat healthy meals, frugally, and be independent when they left on their own. Little did I know how awesome that was going to be for our family. The benefits would far exceed mere independence.
Cooking with your children is important stuff…so get your kids cooking and enjoy the meals made with love and laughter!
COOKING TOGETHER IS A GREAT TIME TO TALK
Cooking with kids can seem daunting. After all, they make bigger messes than you might make on your own. I’ve worn more flour on my clothes and swept up more sugar from my floor baking with my children than I would have without their help if we’re being honest.
But I’ve also had more laughter and memories baking with them than I would have had without them.
We’ve had some awesome conversations over the mixing bowls in our kitchens because cooking is a very cooperative effort.
I’m teaching the skills they will need in adulthood, but I’m also knitting our hearts together.
Plus, all of my bigger children make stellar muffins now! And they are so proud when they can come into the kitchen and whip up a dozen muffins to send to a family who has had a new baby or older neighbor who needs a smile.
COOKING IS A LIFE SKILL
It makes kids feel great when they can do something on their own. Plus it’s your job to equip them to be independent adults one day…why not start now?
Making a meal together doesn’t always mean you are standing over them supervising. Sometimes, especially as they get older, it means you are working on a meal together.
First you teach your children how to cook, but then you get kids cooking on their own or act as their assistants.
These days I’m often chopping a salad while another child is making garlic bread and an older sibling is at the stove cooking up the meat.
So how does that work? Here are some things kids can cook at each age:
- 2-3 years old: Help stir batters, assemble sandwiches
- 4-6 years old: Crack eggs, flip pancakes, make toast, make grilled cheese (with supervision), garlic bread
- 7-10 years old: Follow simple box recipes, make pizzas, scramble eggs/make omelets, assemble tacos
- 11-13 years old: Bake muffins and cakes, brown ground beef for tacos, nachos, or sloppy joes, cook pancakes, make hot dogs and burgers, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, mac and cheese
- Teens: Use the grill for chicken, burgers, and more
Thanksgiving and other “kitchen holidays” are some of my favorite because we’ve got upbeat music on and we’re all working together.
Related: The Joy Of Cooking Together
Consider giving them age appropriate kitchen tools or even a fun apron to help increase their enthusiasm.
KIDS WHO COOK OFTEN EAT HEALTHIER
Guess what? If you get your kids in the kitchen, you’ll find that they are more likely to eat healthy foods, too!
Why? Because they made it. Kids take a lot of pride in the things they make, including food. Start with recipes that have a few healthy ingredients and work your way up to even healthier meals.
There are so many kids that are leaving home with no idea how to cook. These kids don’t have the first clue about how to cut vegetables or even how to scramble an egg. This means their diets consist mostly of packaged or fast food.
Don’t you want your kids to leave home with the ability to cook so they eat real food? It’s a life skill that everyone should know…and an investment in their future health!
They’ll also learn to appreciate the time and effort that goes into a meal made from scratch and appreciate how much better these foods taste. Take their favorite foods and find recipes on how to make copycat versions at home.
COOKING TOGETHER FOCUSES ON FAMILY
Sitting down together to eat a meal your child has helped make is so special.
We love to eat by candlelight (and we do it almost nightly) because it makes the table seems nicer. The conversation seems to flow better, too.
Teaching your kids to invest time in nourishing those they love is a valuable lesson. In my experience, it creates family togetherness when we serve one another, and cooking is one way to do that.
The sense of pride they feel contributing to the meal is also special.
As they get older, there might even be a signature dish they do better than anyone! We have a son who make the best coffee, and he loves when I ask him to brew it in the morning and another who is the master of baked Mac and cheese.
We have a daughter who makes a delicious stir fry and she loves to serve it to company!
Helping them find their “special dish” boosts confidence, which is always a good thing.
Bonus: Parents are often at a loss for how to spend time with their kids when funds are low. You don’t have to spend money to have fun with your kids.
Spending time in the kitchen creates memories that last a lifetime. Who doesn’t remember being in the kitchen with their moms making cookies at Christmas? Don’t you want your kids to have the same wonderful memories?
COOKING TOGETHER IS JUST PLAIN FUN!
Plus, it’s fun.
Roll out the dough, decorate the cookies, chop the lettuce, grill the burgers…TOGETHER!
It’s important for parent and children to have fun together, especially during ‘learning moments.’
Working together builds teamwork, but doing it in the kitchen makes it easier and more fun. You can have one child chop cucumbers while another shreds lettuce and another chooses the salad dressing. Voila!
You just created part of a yummy dinner or lunch…together!
There’s really something magical about taking raw ingredients and turning them into something edible. Your kids will have the most fun with the foods they love, such as pizza and cakes.
Find a couple kids’ cookbooks and let your kids pick a recipe each week. You can take them shopping and let them find the ingredients. It’s a learning experience that’s fun.
As your kids grow older, they’ll have fun learning new techniques and honing their skills with more difficult recipes.