Here are helpful tips for cooking with the kids. Yes, getting kids in the kitchen and excited about eating healthy is possible!
Set realistic expectations and practice good food safety to set your family up for success. Getting kids in the kitchen can be fun and can actually lead to fewer food fights. Yes, it requires a little prep work and training, but before you know it, your kids could be cooking a meal from start to finish while you set the table! First, make sure you’re not cooking with your kid(s) on a day when you’re wiped out, have limited time, or are in a less than forgiving mood. Keep these other cooking tips in mind, as well:
Kitchen safety is of utmost importance. Here are some hard and fast rules:
- Supervise at the stove at all times.
- Never leave a child unattended.
- Follow proper food safety practices (see tips below).
- Use knives and kitchen appliances (blenders, processors, etc.) ONLY with close supervision and that are age-appropriate.
- Teach your child safety practices, and which tools are “off-limits.” Ask your child to repeat the rules to you to ensure adequate understanding. This will make cooking safer and more enjoyable for everyone.
Be prepared for a bigger mess and more time than if you were to do everything yourself. Understand they’re just learning timing and presentation. It takes practice. Remind yourself you’ve been on earth a lot longer and have bigger coping skills than them. Get ideas on what different ages can do and when it is appropriate to think about introducing a new task by seeing our Super Crew Guide to Cooking with Kids.
Say “no” to Spreading Germs, Bacteria and Viruses
- Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of germs, especially when you have little ones in the kitchen who don’t understand the concept of cross-contamination. Wash hands with hot water and soap for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.” Dry hands thoroughly by patting, not rubbing. This protects the keratin layer, so the skin does not crack or tear. Make sure to repeat this process whenever they touch raw or new food. Check out more tips on food safety in the kitchen in the Super Crew Guide to Cooking With Kids.
What to Rinse
- Rinse fruits, veggies, and herbs again after your younger child has chopped them up – chances are they’ve touched their nose, ear, the table, or the dog in the process of getting those little cubes as perfectly even as possible. Use a colander and don’t forget to clean out the sink and drain.
Counter and Sink Safety
- Clean counters before, during, and after cooking. Have the kids wipe cooking surfaces and pick up crumbs on the floor with a handheld vacuum or a small broom and dustpan. Using a spray bottle filled with 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water can sanitize counters and is safe for small children.
Spread the LOVE!
It is never too soon to teach your kids about healthy eating and loving their body by feeding it well. Kids LOVE getting attention, so cooking together is a great way to bond. Kids can start cooking as young as two years old. Spend time with them in the kitchen to develop life-long skills, such as following directions, measuring (math skills), cleanliness, and creativity. Plus, they will have fun tasting healthful new foods that promote health now and in adulthood. Buy our newest book, The Super Crew’s Breakfast Cookbook for Kids, 50 Tasty Recipes + 100 Fun Nutrition Activities, for more tasty, fun recipe and activities ideas.
A messy, happy kitchen filled with kids, spills, and laughter is better than a clean and cold one. Welcome your kids into the kitchen and teach them how to be independent. Get them involved in food prep, serving, and clean up. Being involved in the cooking, prep, or baking process also makes kids more likely to try the healthy foods you are offering them!