Cooking nutritious snacks and meals is an important life skill. At the Storehouse, we believe the entire family should eat balanced meals and know what those meals look like and the basics of making them. Plus, cooking at home with ingredients like fresh fruits and vegetables is cost-effective. From prep work to mixing and measuring, and the clean up, there is learning to be done the whole process. Finally, if kids are involved with cooking, they might be willing to try more new foods! Here are some tips for teaching kids how to cook!
Food Safety & Kid-Safe Cooking
The phrase “safety first” is a good guide. When you enter the kitchen, cover the ground rules to make sure that the food will be safe to eat and the children cooking with you will be safe, too. Go over these topics first, as part of teaching your kids how to cook.
- Wash your hands and wash your child’s hands, too.
- Keep your working surfaces clean
- Separate/Don’t cross contaminate (use separate tools and cutting boards for raw meats and other foods)
- Remind children not to eat raw foods or foods in process of cooking without asking. Raw meats, cookie dough, and even uncooked flour can lead to illness)
- Use a thermometer to get food to the right temperature
- Refrigerate foods promptly so they remain at a safe temperature
- Choose safe tools, like plastic knives or wooden spoons. Avoid sharp objects like graters and actual knives
- Get the work surface and child at the right height. A low table can be great for a toddler. If you use a stool, make sure it is steady and the child can see what they are doing clearly
- Set clear guidelines on staying away from the stove without a parent present
- Remember that kids need supervision at all times
A good list of food safety tips can be found the US Department of Agriculture website. More great tips on the basics of cooking with small children can be found on the PBS website.
Easy Recipes for Cooking with Kids
Start with an easy recipe. Even better, something the child really enjoys eating. Something like chocolate chip cookies are always a crowd pleaser and they can be shared, which is another great lesson!
Read the recipe together from start to finish, then show your kids each of the cooking steps. Gather the ingredients together to make sure you have all that you need. Think through how long it will take to prep and bake. (most recipes list those details) Next, begin to measure all of your ingredients. Allow children to pour water or milk, by starting with smaller containers. If they want to try to crack the eggs, show them how and let them try. At first, it’s a good idea to have them crack the eggs in a separate bowl just in case. Have clean up supplies close at hand. Initially kids will spill a bit, but they can help with the clean up as part of the process, and they will eventually get the hang of it. Everyone spills sometimes, including experienced cooks. Practice patience and they will learn.
Want some ideas of what to cook? Food Network has a handy list of easy recipes to cook with your kids.
Take Your Time
Teaching your kids how to cook is not a race or a one-time event. It takes a lot of practice to learn a new skill and that’s true for cooking and baking. Plus, you have to try different kinds of recipes to really master the task. Also, some children are picky eaters. Focus on what they do like. Attempt to make chicken nuggets and their favorites at home. Cut fruit into fun shapes to engage little eaters. Just encourage good cooking practices and making healthier food choices. Ultimately, if you remember you are teaching your kids a life-long skill, you’ll know it’s worth the effort. Plus, it can be fun family time along the way. Furthermore, you will be promoting good nutrition and make long-lasting memories together in the process.
Get Ingredients at the Storehouse!
The Storehouse provides free grocery carts full of food once a month to our client families. That includes meats, fresh produce, and shelf stable items, too. The pantry is usually open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9:00 AM to Noon. Check out our full calendar here. Nearly 2,500 households came through the Storehouse for food in April 2023 and we are glad to be here to help when local families need us. If you and your family are going without food, come see us! We will provide some ingredients to inspire you to get cooking!