By getting your kids involved with cooking at young age, you’ll start making fond memories while teaching them valuable lifelong skills! Maybe they’ll get so good at cooking, they’ll be the ones making dinner every night. We can dream, right?
Safety Tip: Children should always be supervised by an adult when working with food or equipment in the kitchen – and all cleaning products should be kept out of their reach. These guidelines don’t cover everything and may apply differently to different kids, so please be careful. We want to make sure cooking together is a fun, enjoyable experience for everyone!
Start with Baking
The easiest way to get kids involved in the kitchen is to start with baking, since there’s usually little to no cutting involved.
Start with simple recipes – like chocolate chip cookies – to ease them into cooking. Learning to measure, mix and prepare is really easy, so the experience can become a teaching moment and a new memory.
Appoint Them as Sous Chef
Although it’s not a good idea to let them do anything with a knife, they can still help in the preparation stages. Scrubbing potatoes, tearing lettuce, washing veggies and peeling corn on the cob are all easy ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen.
When They’re Ready to Chop …
Probably one of parents’ biggest fears when cooking with the kids is letting them handle sharp knives. Children should always be supervised when handling knives or similar objects.
To start, let your child practice with plastic knives, which are less likely to cause injuries. Instruct kids to hold the knife in one hand while the free hand acts as a “claw,” gripping the item with their nails. Knuckles should be facing the blade with fingers tucked under.
Have them test out their cutting skills on easy-to-slice bananas and gradually work up to apples, carrots and peppers.
Besides learning how to use the stove and oven, kids need to be aware that any equipment that’s been heated can be dangerously hot to touch with bare hands – and children should always be supervised whenever they’re around hot objects. That includes pots, pans, lids and handles, as well as utensils – all of which can stay warm well after they’ve been removed from direct heat.
Toasters and microwaves are no exception – bowls and containers that have been put in the microwave should never be picked up without a potholder or oven mitt. Hot liquids, oil and steam are more likely to cause injury than actual flames, so lifting or pouring should be done slowly and only on stable surfaces.
Other Safety Tips:
1. Clean Hands
Before bringing the kids into the kitchen, young chefs should lather hands with warm, soapy water – front and back – and under fingernails. A good trick to know when hands are clean: Sing the “Happy Birthday” song once from beginning to end.
2. To Taste or Not to Taste
It’s tempting to want to lick that cake batter, but raw ingredients carry the risk of foodborne illnesses. Uncooked eggs and raw meat or poultry (including the marinade they sat in) should never be taste-tested. Remind kids to let hot things cool before tasting and not to lick their fingers while cooking, as they may have come into contact with harmful bacteria.
3. Proper Attire
With kids in the kitchen, it can quickly become a messy place, so be ready for spills and splatters with Bounty paper towels. To keep your little ones clean, have them dress accordingly: an apron or old clothes and comfortable, non-skid shoes. Avoid dangling jewellery that could catch on drawer handles or knobs on the stove. (Make your young cook feel extra special by topping off his or her outfit with a kid-sized chef’s hat!)
4. Clean up
Cleaning products should always be stored out of the reach of children. When you clean the kitchen, it’s best not to include the kids. And as you clean, be sure not to leave products or dirty rags in places where kids can grab them.
At what age did you start getting involved in the kitchen? Tell us your story in the comments below!