During quarantine 2020, parents everywhere had a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting with themselves. Some admitted that their kids were turds and felt waves of empathy for teachers across the world. Others were unwilling to face some facts and soaked themselves in Chardonnay and nachos. (This would be me.)
Really though, almost ALL of my momma-friends realized their kids needed some encouragement and confidence to enjoy a wider variety of foods.
This really got me thinking…when did YOUR kitchen story start?
Have you ever thought about what you want your child’s kitchen experience to be?
I have some lovely friends that had NO CLUE how to cook and found themselves young, with a family and clueless in the kitchen. But, I have others who just seem to have an inclination for it.
I often hear my cooking students say they cannot cook without a recipe. Or, that they are terrible cooks. But, what they don’t understand is that some of us grew up in the kitchen and some of us didn’t. We’ve had a few years practice and our ‘effortless meals’ were once failed attempts.
(Btw, I STILL make errors!! Last night, I was recipe testing for a workshop and DESTROYED my recipe. It happens! As in life, you learn and move along.)
I was blessed to spend my early years with a grandmother who prepared dinner every evening. I watched her create meal after meal with quick, confident hands.
Every once in a while, she would let me stir, sift or ‘put ice in the glasses.’
Many of my friends were ‘shooed’ out of the kitchen or had moms that only made the great convenience foods of the 80’s and 90’s. On the opposite spectrum, some moms went above an beyond to serve their kids.
(Y’all, I went to high school with a girl who didn’t even know how to make her own soup- from a can!!!)
From veggie hater to tweens and teens, we see your frustration and KNOW you can get Your Kids Involved in the Kitchen- without losing your mind.
First, let’s chat about…
Why every child should learn to cook.
Not only does ‘kitchen-know-how’ create confidence, cooking is a crucial life skill that teaches nutrition, food safety and helps build fine motor skills.
Additionally, cooking requires math, science, literacy and comprehension.
Encouraging children in the kitchen teaches them how to take direction, work with other and can expose them to foods they may otherwise not want to try.
After TONS of research and a few Nacho-Chardonnay fueled nights plotting to push the palettes of littles, I’ve come to learn the following no-fail ways to get the kids in the kitchen, changing how they look at food- FOREVER.
How to get kids interested in cooking
A little planning will go a long way. Here are a few tips:
Plan an Activity- in advance.
Think through what you are going to make and assign your kiddo a task. Consider their age and what they can do. Can they peel the garlic? Grate cheese? Measure Flour? Stir the bowl?
Look for ways they can help prior to making a meal to set them up for the greatest success.
Even something as simple as rinsing the vegetables can make a difference to a child that melts down when hearing the word ‘vegetable.’
Snack Attack: One of my FAVORITE snacks is PB and banana frozen treats. I slice the bananas, spread PB then top with a banana. (I usually freeze them and dip them in melted dark chocolate for a little extra.)
But, my point is, use something simple like making PB & Banana treats or dip blueberry or strawberry in yogurt to go into the freezer to engage them. It will build kitchen confidence and may be the ‘gateway’ to getting them more involved.
When they are ready for a snack, they can enjoy the snack THEY created for the family. Talk about empowering!
Expect a mess and DON’T STRESS.
So, here’s the thing.
Kids are going to get dirty. They are going to make a mess. Heck, any time I TOUCH flour, it magically appears ALL OVER me.
Expect a mess and don’t stress. Throw them into an old shirt or an apron. Being covered in flour is temporary. Teaching a child Kitchen Confidence is permanent.
It doesn’t always have to be perfect. Or, clean.
Remember that it is bonding time.
So many of our memories are tied to food and tradition. I don’t know one person that was not influenced by someone’s cooking.
The time you spend in the kitchen is time without electronics distracting either of you.
Make it impactful. Have a conversation. Tell jokes. Ask questions. You may be surprised what your children will tell you…when you take the time to ask!
Make it fun and unique.
I think Girl Scout Troop #109091 had more fun making Vietnamese Spring Rolls than they did the brownies.
(Well, that may not be the complete story, but trust me, it was fun!)
We talked about the difference between rice noodles and wheat noodles and made ‘peanut butter’ sauce with fruit spring rolls.
Fun, unique experiences are memorable. Throw in a little culture lesson and you have well rounded, confident little chefs.
Be a good example.
Don’t Yuck My Yum….This BRILLIANT expression comes to us via Shanon Morris, RD. Her sweet book MC Veggie Fresh Rocks the Mic is a lovely tale about a little girl named Clementine and her journey to share her love of fresh VEGGIES with her classmates.
The expression of “Don’t Yuck my Yum” reminds us how impressionable children are and the importance of not sharing our negative opinions of food with them.
“Would you want to try a scary new food if your parent told you it was gross? Probably not.”-Shanon Morris, MS, RD, CDN via her book, MC Veggie Fresh Rocks the Mic
I am a collector of children’s books and this IMMEDIATELY became one of my favorites. It’s illustrated beautifully and teaches a lesson in leadership as well as promoting a healthful mindset.
For your copy, visit www.ShanonMorris.com.
Kids Cooking Collective
During the 2020 pandemic, I partnered up with one of the coolest moms I know with the idea to create a kids cooking program.
Children of all ages can earn badges toward a variety of cooking classes designed to build kitchen confidence.
For more information on the Kids Cooking Collective, please check out our link:
So, there you have it! Our suggestions for ways to get your kiddos into the kitchen -WITHOUT- losing your mind!