The past couple of months have been quite a challenge for all of us. For families, this time has meant everyone occupying the same close quarters, and even under the best of situations too much togetherness can get a little stressful.
Considering our current realities, 225 recipe writer Tracey Koch offered up some tips for making meal prep a part of family time. It helps make the chore of cooking dinner easier. But it also provides a bonding and learning experience for both parents and children.
Here are Tracey’s tips for cooking with kids at home:
1. Plan recipes in advance: Look for dishes you feel comfortable making and your kids will most want to eat. Create a base selection while still giving the kids some responsibility in making the final decision. Make sure the directions are easy to follow and age appropriate. Also provide enough tasks to keep the kids interested but not too in-depth that they mentally check out.
2. Take a pantry inventory: Check to see which ingredients you have on hand. Also confirm that you have all the proper tools and equipment to pull off your recipe.
3. Realize cooking with kids may take more time than you expect: Give yourself a little extra cushion. This will help you stay relaxed and not feel rushed.
4. Prep is key: Read through the recipe with your kids to make sure they understand the directions. Confirm that everyone is wearing an apron or something that can get dirty … because they will. Talk to them about proper hygiene, hand washing when handling raw meat, and keeping the workspace clean.
5. Be safe when choosing cooking equipment: Use discretion, as the maturity level of the child will dictate what to use. All children should be supervised when handling sharp knives and utensils. With the younger kids, stick to tasks like measuring and
stirring. If the child is using a step stool, make sure it is level, sturdy and slip-free.
6. Establish rules about the stove top and oven: Avoid serious burns by keeping boiling pots on the back burners, and always turn the handles inward to avoid them from getting knocked over. Always use clean and dry pot holders when handling hot pots and pans.
7. Clean as you go: Cooking can get messy, so keep the broom and mop handy, along with nontoxic cleaner and paper towels.
8. Use this time as a learning tool: Ask them to identify the tablespoon versus teaspoon or locate different measurements on the measuring cup. It’s a great opportunity to work on reading and math skills.
9. Expand their palates: Cooking taps into all your senses. Let your kids feel some of the ingredients with their hands, and smell and taste the different spices. This will teach them about flavors and textures—and help them form better eating habits and become more adventurous eaters.
10. Keep it fun: Remember that the way to keep kids interested is to make it fun and relaxed. The skills you are passing down are life lessons, and the memories you make will last a lifetime!
Want some recipe ideas to try out with the kids? Read on for ideas from the May 2020 issue of 225.