Advantages of Cooking with Your Kids

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It’s never too early or late to start the learning curve in the kitchen with your kids. I’m sure as parents, we can all relate to our young ones imitating the noise a mixer or a grinder makes; and there have also been instances where toddlers happily swap their toys for kitchen utensils echoing our actions. This signals that their curiosity has extended to the kitchen too. Grab the opportunity when the time is right. As responsible parents, it is our duty to teach our children the skill of cooking, it is after all a necessity, a basic life skill. Regardless of your little one being a prince or princess, teach them how to cook, a skill they will never regret learning. Let’s learn how to make the learning process fun for kids.

How and where to start: For all those parents who have no idea on how to start, look no further!

  1. Plan a weekly menu with your kids – Plan a menu for the upcoming week based on what your family usually eats, doesn’t have to be elaborate. If the child is a fussy eater, give him close ended options to choose from and not let him decide.
  2. Draw out a shopping list from your planned menu.
  3. Go grocery shopping and don’t deviate too much from the list. Teach the child how to pick fresh fruits and vegetables. To make grocery shopping with toddlers easier, please read “How to shop wisely at the grocery store” under HappyDNA blogs.
  4. Preparation – Action time! Involve your kids in the kitchen whenever time permits. Make weekends a time for the whole family to get together and cook.

You could even organise community cooking classes with kids below your apartment or at a nearby park to make it a fun weekend activity!

A few age appropriate tasks in the kitchen

0-1 years – just explore the kitchen and observe how things work which stimulates learning

1-3 years – picking curry leaves, sorting vegetables and help put them in vegetable rack, mashing vegetables with a masher

3-5 years – scooping idli from mould, watering plants with used kitchen water, running a mixer with supervision, sifting flour, picking leafy greens, mixing raitha, stirring juices, snapping the ends off beans, spread peanut butter over toast, wash vegetables in a colander

5-9 years – peeling boiled potato skin, grating with supervision, peeling onions, sautéing, laying the table, cut with a butter knife and then progress to a small knife

9 years and above – making dosas, weighing ingredients for baking, cleaning up after a meal, washing a few dishes

Recipe Ideas

Like I’ve stressed before, you are the master chef of your kitchen, go with the flow and get creative teaching your kids along the way. Here are a few recipe ideas to get you all started.

  • Milkshakes/smoothies/popsicles
  • Baking recipes – cookies and cupcakes
  • Pizzas/Pasta
  • Sandwiches
  • Soups
  • Juices
  • Raithas
  • Dosa
  • Idli
  • And many many more…..

Advantages

  • It’s a basic survival skill. Teaching your kids how to fend for themselves makes them feel proud, responsible and accomplished!
  • Your child is less likely to be choosy and will be very curious to try the dish.
  • The kitchen is a great place to talk about health and stress on the importance of eating healthy. Talk about the importance of each ingredient and it’s health benefits, right from the mustard used for seasoning to coriander used as garnish. Store more of healthier food items and lesser of junk so that your child make wise choices when she grows up too. Children learn a great deal by simply seeing around.
  • Cooking together is a time for family bonding too. Once you develop a weekly ritual, your children will definitely have lovely memories to cherish when they grow up and will pass on this skill to future generations too.
  • You are also teaching children that household duties are not the sole responsibility of the mother, it can be divided among the other members.
  • A great place to get creative. Allow your child to get creative in the kitchen with combinations you haven’t dared to try.

Word of caution

Kids will be kids no matter what, we need to be in charge of providing them with safe environment to work with. Do not allow them to use electrical appliances without adult supervision, always stand by them beside the stove, avoid giving them glass or fragile utensils – steel is best with kids. Yes, it will be a messy affair initially, but be patient, it’s well worth the effort.

This does not guarantee that your kids will drool over broccoli and avocados, but they WILL eat healthy most of the time! Samosas, burgers and chips will still occupy a memorable part of their childhood.

And not to forget, always begin by washing hands!!

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