Table Talk: Cooking With Kids

Table Talk: Cooking With Kids
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Cooking with our kids can be an adventure, that’s for sure! It can be messy and a bit chaotic but there are things even the toddlers can do to help mommy and daddy in the kitchen.

little girl with a whisk and flour with a wood cutting board

With quarantines and lock-downs being a daily part of life nowadays, I am hearing parents say they have spent more time with their kids than ever before. It has been a real eyeopener for most parents. Before they had to start telecommuting for work, the daycare or schools had their little ones. It was a necessary evil. Now none of us know when those days will be back and we are adjusting the best way we can.

Cooking time can be frustrating when the kids are running around screaming or worse, suddenly quiet. The best solution to this in these changing times, and the most fun one, is to encourage them to join you in the kitchen.

Yeah, you heard me right! Cooking with your kids can be an amazing experience and you can teach them so much. The younger they are, the simpler the tasks but no matter what the age, they will learn something from it.

Kids Love the Basics

little girl adding seasoning with help from mom in kitchen
  • Have them gather ingredients from the fridge and pantry. Getting small things they can hold in their little hands makes them feel big right off the bat.
  • Teach kids about measurements by showing them the different sizes of measuring spoons. Then show them how to scoop out the amount you need for the recipe. They will love dumping the spoonful into the bowl or pan.
  • Have your child pour from the measuring cup into the pan or bowl. Tell them what the measurement is and if they can talk, have them repeat it. Repetition helps with the memory for them the same as it does for us.
  • Even the littlest hands love to stir. Give them the big job of stirring the batter or whisking the eggs.

Kids vs. Veggies

two children peeling potatoes on red cutting mats
  • Vegetables are always hard for parents to get kids to eat, especially for toddlers. If you give them the hands-on duty of veggie prep, even give the veggies nicknames (yeah, I did that), the kids would be more inclined to eat them, at least a little bit.
  • Potatoes will be fun for your child to smash with a hand masher. I tell ya, they will beat those suckers to death!
  • Tiny ones are great about tearing greens for salads. Salads may not be their thing but if you talk to them about dinosaurs and giant leaves of the jungle (you will think of something) they will have their curiosity peaked!
  • Remember what I said about veggie nicknames? How about them baby trees? Yep! Kids are great about breaking apart broccoli and cauliflower heads!

Busy Hands, Good Food

two children preparing dinner
  • Have the kids squeeze your lemons and limes for you into a strainer. Remember to have them roll the fruits on a hard surface first to get the most juice out. Then you cut them in half and let them go at it!
  • There isn’t much about baking cookies that the kids can’t participate in. One thing my kids always enjoyed doing was dipping the bottom of a glass in sugar and smashing the sugar cookies down. Or how about them doing the crisscrossing with a fork across peanut butter cookies?
  • Kids love grating cheese. Hope you need a lot since they will want to keep on grating.
  • Children can use a can-opener sometimes easier than we can. Give them that big task along with draining the canned vegetables.

Kids Have Eggcellent Ideas!

breaking eggs baking chocolate cake with kids
Adding eggs to chocolate cake batter
  • Yeah, eggs are fragile but little ones can be taught “be gentle” and tap on a bowl edge until it cracks.
  • Kids are great at peeling boiled eggs. I think they are more patient about getting all the little pieces of eggshell off the egg than I am.
  • Putting a boiled egg into the egg slicer is one thing but watching their eyes when they push it down and the egg slices is a hoot!

Pushing the Right Buttons

  • Kids love to push buttons. Let them pour the right ingredients in a blender or food processor and let them push away.
  • Let the kids load the air fryer or pile the ingredients into the crock pot. When children can be a big part in preparing the main course, their interest in cooking is multiplied.

Cooking Up Something Fun

  • Have a blast with your kids and let them name the recipes you cook together. You will be surprised at the names they come up with and how much the names stick. My youngest used to call mac & cheese with smokie’s, mac and cheese with pinkies because she thought the smokies looked like her pinkie. I still call it that and she is 20.
  • Those little hands are great when it comes to putting on the cheese. Let them pile it on for grilled cheese or quesadillas!
  • The same principle with the grilled cheeses goes with pizza, as well. Let them help put together pizzas for family pizza night. They will enjoy adding the toppings with you.
  • Give them a rubber spatula and they will work their magic spreading garlic butter on French bread for some tasty garlic bread.
  • A stack of biscuits or crescents from a can and a bowl of little wienies and you got yourself some pigs in a blanket they will be proud of making.
  • Bigger kids can shred pork or chicken and let the smaller ones stir in some barbecue sauce for some delicious pulled pork/chicken sandwiches.
  • Young fingers are great at rolling enchiladas. My grandkids help me roll tamales, too.
  • Sandwiches are a breeze when kids are there to pile on the fixings. They can even spread the mayo or mustard!

Teaching our children to cook is a skill that they will never outgrow. Getting take-out is nice but when they can be taught that cooking at home as a family isn’t a chore, they will more often than not prefer this one on one time than a trip to the burger place.

What kind of things do your kids enjoy doing in the kitchen? Let me know in the comments below. They won’t stay small forever so use this strange time we are in for the better. Family time is oh my gravy good!



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