Cooking can be a lifelong hobby, and many families build traditions around food they prepare together. Involving kids in the kitchen teaches skills to your children that will benefit them throughout their lives.
You can even start from a young age. Toddlers love helping, even if their help makes the project messier and longer! If you are baking, your child can help pour together ingredients like flour, sugar, and salt that you have pre-measured. If perfection is not important, you can share icing and decorating tasks to make a unique birthday cake for a family member. Or to keep your little one busy while you are making dinner, try letting him or her have free reign over their own project. Buy cheap bags of flour, rice, pasta, and dry beans. Set out some bowls, measuring cups, and mixing spoons. This will keep toddlers entertained for ages, and while they’re sure to make a big mess, they’ll also enjoy helping you sweep up the spills at the end.
Kids of all ages get excited about growing their own food in the summer. Whether you have a huge yard with room for garden beds, or a sunny windowsill in an apartment, you can become gardeners and share the joy of watching plants grow from seeds into vegetables. For small pots, herbs like basil or cilantro work well and grow quickly. For larger pots, cherry tomatoes are easy and produce tomatoes for months in the hot summer months. If you have even more space, cucumbers, zucchini, and bell peppers are fun to watch as they grow. Adding your home-grown produce to recipes is exciting for cooks of all ages!
School-aged kids can take on more responsibility and be true helpers in the kitchen. While close supervision is important around hot surfaces and sharp knives, kids can take ownership of a recipe. Quick baked goods like muffins are satisfying, and kids can handle all the measuring and mixing. Making your own pizza, assembling toppings for a taco bar, or helping make a special pasta sauce can involve kids in family-friendly meals. Many kids like accompanying parents to the grocery store, and allowing your whole family to offer ideas can make meal planning and shopping more fun for everyone.
Finally, taking a cooking class together can be a fun night for both kids and parents! You’ll have a couple hours of special time together, prepare a kid-friendly full course meal, and gain confidence to repeat the experience at home in your own kitchen.
Parkway-Rockwood Community Ed is offering two upcoming Parent-Child Cooking courses on May 6 and August 6.