Thursday, April 28, 2011
Cooking with Kids: Spend time, Save money!
The prices of just about everything is going up. What's a mom to do? This mom started baking....from scratch! Lately this has become an addictive hobby! I wanted to share some of my tips and give you some reasons why I think cooking with kids can be such a rewarding experience:
Letting kids help with the cooking allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment and contribute to the family in a very concrete and visual way. It's kind of like doing an art project that everyone will enjoy! You get to eat the creations.
Kitchen tasks improve small motor skills, listening skills and patience. Cutting skills, measuring skills, stirring, kneading, and (of course) clean up are all part of the cooking routine. Cooking is very adaptable as different tasks can be given depending on the age and skill level of the child. An older child can measure while a young child can stir!
Cooking is a practical way to spend time and save money. Many people believe that they don't have the time and energy to prepare meals and snacks from scratch, but if you view it more as entertainment (with a practical outcome :) than you may find that extra time. I've started really enjoying cooking and so I have been incorporating it in my day and including the kids so they have something to do. Maybe try to set up a day once a week to cook something from scratch with your child. I've been doing a bit of calculating and have found that I am actually saving our family money. Plus I know what is going into my kiddo's food.
Here are a few tips to keep the frustration down! :
This is a no brainer, but have kids wash their hands and pull up long hair into pony tails. Establish this as a habit and soon the kids will do this automatically when it's "time to cook"!
Be prepared for a bit of a mess. Parchment or wax paper is your friend. Clear off the kitchen table as it is usually easier for kids to cook at the table since it is lower.
Establish kitchen rules and words that kids will understand. For example I always announce when the oven is getting turned on "THE OVEN IS ON" and I announce when I am opening the oven "I'M OPENING THE OVEN, STAY BACK". Our oven door actually blocks the walkway through the kitchen when it is open so this let's people know not to come through because they could get burned! I generally handle anything hot except I have recently been teaching my 10 year old how to handle things on the stove (with supervision and instruction).
If your child insists on cracking eggs, have them crack it in separate small bowl. That way it will be easy to pull out any potential shells ;)
If you have a child that is new to measuring, you can have them measure items and put them in bowls before mixing them together....or (if your child is too young to measure) you could measure the ingredients into separate bowls and then let the child add them to the mixing bowl.
Have fun and view this as a learning opportunity, not just a chore. Reading, math, creativity all come into play with cooking. Take advantage of it and have fun too!
There are lots of great kids cook books out there that help you to involve your children with cooking. Right now I am reading "Little Kitchen" by Sabrina Parrini which I have on loan from our public library. It is great because it has quite a few more sophisticated dishes that kids can make rather than just cookies and ants on a log...not that there is anything wrong with cookies and ants on a log!!! :) Also, check out www.AllRecipes.com for and an almost unlimited supply of free recipes on just about anything you can think of! Have fun!