I've cooked with my kids since they were old enough to help stir ingredients into a bowl. At ages 9 and 6, they have both become fairly proficient in the kitchen, with my oldest being able to cook a number of simple recipes on her own. The photo above? That would be my daughter making cranberry-pear muffins last year, all by herself. They were a Christmas treat for her teachers.
With the holidays approaching, it's the perfect time to invite your kids into the kitchen with you, to both create memories and help keep them occupied. But what can they help with?
Here are a few great ideas from Ashley Grimaldo that can help make kids in the kitchen less stressful on Mom! Ashley lives in Bryan, Texas, with her husband and three children, and enjoys blogging on money-saving tips and advice for frugal-minded parents. She has been featured in many media outlets, including Redbook, The Chicago Tribune, Time.com, and CBS News-Houston.
Ashley's tips for toddlers:
- Sanitary Specialist: Wash hands, put on an apron and discuss how to correctly measure ingredients. Continue to remind Junior not to eat the ingredients as you prepare them.
- Super Scooper: For ingredients that don't need to be measured perfectly, let him scoop the measuring cup and dump the goods into the proper place. A simple green bean casserole is tough to mess up. Avoid doing this with baked goods, which need to be precisely measured.
- Can Opener: Electric, safe-edge can openers make life so much easier, plus you can help your little one learn how to safely open cans with it. Let Junior open the condensed milk and pour into the pumpkin pie puree himself.
- Relish Tray Artist: Letting your little one put carrots, celery and olives onto the relish tray gives him great sorting practice. It's helpful to have a segmented tray for the task.
- Utensil Utilizer: It's just more fun to stir the squash casserole with a colorful spoon than with a boring stainless steel one!
Ashley's tips for elementary aged children:
- Meat Monitor: Help your child learn about the meat thermometer--stick it in several foods and liquids of varying temperatures. Then explain how hot it should be inside the turkey so that it's completely cooked (180° deep in the thigh). Have her check on the turkey as it cooks to watch the temperature rise.
- Cookie Decorator: Elementary-aged kids have a blast icing sugar cookies (plus it takes them a long time so you can make good progress on other dishes). Bake, cut and cook the cookies ahead of time, then help your child learn how to hold the icing bag so it doesn't squirt out of the end.
- Mix Master: For simple foods like stuffing or mashed sweet potatoes, let your child dig in with their hands to mix the food. Help him use the rubber scraper to incorporate all the ingredients as well.
- Recipe Reader: Give your child free access to gather goods--especially larger items in the pantry. Sharpen their literacy skills with new food terminology and turn ingredient gathering into a scavenger hunt.
What other tips do you have for cooking with your kids? Any great stories to share? We'd love to hear your advice too!
Shannon is a Canadian mom to her two little Texans, now living in
Colorado, and the author of
'??BentoLunch.net '?? What'??s for Lunch at Our House,'? her blog detailing the adventures of feeding her children.
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