Teaching your Kids to Cook

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On our podcast with Family Looking Up this week, Beth was talking to us about the struggle of cooking with her kids at dinner time. The kids are feeling over confident in their skills, everyone’s hands are in the mix at the same time, and it just doesn’t feel successful or enjoyable when you are in a huge moment of stress and chaos. It compounds when you actually have to have dinner finished on a timely schedule. I have had so many of these moments at my house!! So how do we teach our kids these important skills with out losing our minds? These are a few solutions that have really helped us.

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  1. Cook with your kids when you aren’t pressed for time.

    Weekends- especially Saturday mornings have worked really well for us. I’m usually a lot less stressed, we’re not in any hurry, and we’re generally a lot more rested.

  2. Have them help with just a little part of the prep to start.

    Instead of creating a 5 course meal together, have the kids help with one of the sides. Maybe they can peel the potatoes, tear lettuce, husk corn, shred the cheese or snap the green beans.

  3. One on One

    If at all possible, just have one of your kids help you at a time. I love this because not only does it keep the madness level down, but it gives me a chance to talk one on one with my aspiring chef and have some quality teaching moments.

  4. Work it in as one of their chores after school

    This actually helps me remember to start dinner on time. When I do this I’m actively prepping early enough to have something healthy and delicious ready to go into the oven when we need it. On our chore charts (we have free printables for you through this link, and this one), I always have a “Kitchen Help” job they have to do. During the summer we have a “chef of the week” and that person helps me do food prep during the week.

  5. When you’re teaching knife skills, start soft first

    One of the first things we do it cut bananas. You can even use plastic forks if you’re nervous about your child using a real knife. Anything we can think of that will slice up with a butter knife is where we start. This includes spreading- like peanut butter, jelly, etc. After the softer foods, we head on to real knives, but still foods that aren’t really hard to cut, like cucumbers. They usually need a little more than a butter knife, but they aren’t hard like a carrot. We gradually get to the point where they are comfortable cutting anything.

  6. This helps picky eaters!!

    As we cook together, the kids are smelling the foods, handling the foods and tasting as we go along. They have a lot of pride in what they make, and it really helps my picky eaters to branch out and try foods they don’t normally go for. Best of all, it cuts down on the fuss and tears. For more tips about How to Handle Picky Eaters, sign up for our free newsletter. The tips will be sent straight to your inbox!

  7. Bring a meal to a friend

    Involve your kids in serving with food. I love doing this because it shows my children, in a different way, gratitude for food. You can really show love and support by bringing a meal into a new mom, or a friend who has had a death in the family, or surgery, or a really bad day. The list of reasons is endless. When you put a little love in your cooking, that always makes it a better experience.

  8. Germ Lessons

    Cooking time can be a great time to teach kids about the need for hand washing and germ cross contamination. Understanding that it is unhealthy to leave mayonnaise out of the fridge for an extended period of time, or that you don’t want to cut veggies right after raw chicken on the same cutting board, is knowledge that will benefit them throughout their lives.

  9. Talents and Gifts

    You might find that your child is a natural in the kitchen! How wonderful if you can get them to be developing their gifts and talents, and feeding the family at the same time! It’s a win- win! A couple of my children find a lot of joy in cooking. It really builds their self confidence when they learn how to make something new.

  10. Functional as Adults

    One of my main missions as a mother, is to train my kids to be independent, functional adults. My hope is that when they leave home for college, or church missions, they will already know how to do all the household tasks and adult should know how to do. I don’t want them to have to go out into the world and have to learn how to make themselves dinner, learn how to do their laundry, grocery shop, budget, etc. at the same time as being away from home for the first time. Life will be so much easier for them later on, if they are already comfortable taking care of adult tasks.

I hope these tips help you! We are not perfect around here, but having a family of 9 has certainly given us a lot of hands on experience. Keep your hopes high and your expectations low. Have FUN!!

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Hillary HessComment