Teaching Your Kids How to Cook
Cooking is a skill that everyone should have as food provides a mainstay for socializing and health in many cultures. To cook something is more than just knowing where the can opener is, throwing some ramen noodles in boiling water or zapping a frozen dinner in the microwave. While these foods are convenient and will likely get teens a quick fix once in a while, preparing them doesn’t constitute cooking. Also, whole foods are healthy and need to be ready, so it’s important for kids to know how to get through college on more than just boxed macaroni and cheese. Here are some simple ideas to involve your kids in the daily meal preparation, and give them a love for the kitchen, planning and creating healthy meals:
1. Make Time. An excellent meal should not be rushed - so teach the value of timing by making sure you are not rushing while working with the kids in the kitchen. You will teach them how to prepare for cooking and to know ahead of time how long a recipe will take to make, as well as time for the food to cool and ready to serve.
2. Safety is Key. Start with the basics, how to work the oven, turn off the stove, wear oven mittens to reach into a hot oven, using kitchen equipment safely and where the fire extinguisher is. If the kids aren’t old enough to use the stove, sharp objects or appliances, you can involve them in the mixing, stirring or spooning of the food. Also, letting them set the table can be an excellent way to include the little ones.
3. Food Safety is Healthy. Teach your kids about safe food handling practices such as wiping off the cutting board, washing hands and the fruits and vegetables. This would be a prime time to discuss the difference between the ‘5-second rule’ of eating something off of the floor and staying healthy in the kitchen as well as the importance of hand washing.
4. The Art of Preparation. Although having the ingredients prepared ahead of time is comfortable for adults, learning to follow a recipe has many benefits. When you show kids how to follow a recipe they will practice math, exercise critical thinking, learn measurements and conversions, and practice reading skills.
When you show your kids how to cook, they will feel confident to build healthy meals on their own, and you may just find one child who loves to cook. With any luck, you could be priming the next Iron Chef for greatness – or at the very least, get some much-needed help with dinner.
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