There are many advantages to involving your little ones in the kitchen. You can keep an eye on them without worrying about what disasters they’re cooking up on their own, away from your watchful eyes. Also, they would be proud to eat something they had a hand in making, even if it’s something as unappealing as broccoli. They are more likely to grow up to be veggie-loving adults as they grow up when they are exposed to veggies as children.
It’s not that scary as you may think. All you have to do is think of simple recipe and place importance on the process and not the final outcome. Here are a few tips in coking with kids.
- Make the process fun: It’s all about the journey. Sing songs, wear aprons so they don’t get food all over their nice clothes, and do other things that your children love.
- Be Kitchen Smart: With kids involved, you should keep their safety as priority. Don’t use real knifes and cutlery – give them plastic ones which are specifically designed for children. They can be given kitchen tools like a mortar and pestle, spoons and bowls to work with. Also give them hand wipes instead of hand sanitizer as they tend to put their hands in their mouth more often. They should also regularly wash their hands, but without using too much soap.
- Use homegrown plants or pickable plants: Either grow your own vegetables in the back garden and let them have a hand in maintaining it or allow them to pick the fruits and vegetables. Picking is a fun activity and even if they go overboard in picking, you can always dry the herbs or freeze the extras.
- Introduce New Food: If you introduce new food to the children at a young age, you can break down resistance better. As kids get older, the influence of their peers can have a negative impact and may offer many challenges, especially if their friends don’t like certain foods. Another point to remember is that little children have more taste buds so they can get overwhelmed easily by strong tasting foods.
- Use the senses: Go slow and let their senses develop as you cook. Let them touch, see, smell and hear in the kitchen. Feel the difference in a potato and a tomato, smell the baking food in the oven, hear the crunch of certain foods or the soft squish of mashed potatoes. This involves the children and gets them engaged in the cooking process.
- Be the first taster: Always take the first bite or have the first taste to see that all is good for the little ones. Encourage them and give praise at the dinner table on the tiny helping hands and their cooking efforts.
- Teach them to be honest but sensitive to others tastes and efforts: Not everyone likes the same food so teaching them how to word certain things or to express themselves in a way that doesn’t hurt someone else’s feelings is very important. For example, someone might like broccoli but another child may not – for them to say ‘YUCK’ may have a different impact on the other person.
- Safety always comes first: Even while cooking, the children may become aware of any allergies they may have or if they are sensitive to any food. This is the best time for them to learn it, where you are around. They will figure out on their own what they like and don’t like and they can get tips from their elder siblings to voice out what they feel.