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Do you cook with your children? One awesome way to keep them involved in the family, teach them life skills, and have bonding time is to get kids cooking with you!
In our home, we love to cook together. Cooking with your children is important for many reasons. Here’s why…
About a month into our marriage my husband asked me what might be the most perplexing question of our entire marriage: “Can you cook something not Italian for dinner? I mean, just anything that doesn’t come with sauce or pasta?”
I stared at him, absolutely dumbfounded. “Why?”
Hubby had grown up in a meat and potatoes home and missed that food.
Me? I had never in my life baked a potato, cooked a steak, or even roasted a chicken. I was stymied.
As this was before Pinterest, I headed to the library to get some books out so I could feed him what he was missing.
When I left for college I knew how to make salads, any Italian dish you could imagine, and order take-out. I never had a problem eating (because who doesn’t love chicken parm or mac and cheese), so I didn’t realize how limited my experience was.
That was when I resolved that I would teach any children we had to cook and cook well.
I wanted them to be able to eat healthy meals, frugally, and be independent when they left on their own. Little did I know how awesome that was going to be for our family. The benefits would far exceed mere independence.
Cooking with your children is important stuff…so get your kids cooking and enjoy the meals made with love and laughter!
COOKING TOGETHER IS A GREAT TIME TO TALK
Cooking with kids can seem daunting. After all, they make bigger messes than you might make on your own. I’ve worn more flour on my clothes and swept up more sugar from my floor baking with my children than I would have without their help if we’re being honest.
But I’ve also had more laughter and memories baking with them than I would have had without them.
We’ve had some awesome conversations over the mixing bowls in our kitchens because cooking is a very cooperative effort.
I’m teaching the skills they will need in adulthood, but I’m also knitting our hearts together.
Plus, all of my bigger children make stellar muffins now! And they are so proud when they can come into the kitchen and whip up a dozen muffins to send to a family who has had a new baby or older neighbor who needs a smile.
COOKING TOGETHER GIVES THEM INDEPENDENCE
It makes kids feel great when they can do something on their own. Plus it’s your job to equip them to be independent adults one day…why not start now?
Making a meal together doesn’t always mean you are standing over them supervising. Sometimes, especially as they get older, it means you are working on a meal together.
First you teach your children how to cook, but then you get kids cooking on their own or act as their assistants.
These days I’m often chopping a salad while another child is making garlic bread and an older sibling is at the stove cooking up the meat.
So how does that work? Here are some things kids can cook at each age:
- 2-3 years old: Help stir batters, assemble sandwiches
- 4-6 years old: Crack eggs, flip pancakes, make toast, make grilled cheese (with supervision), garlic bread
- 7-10 years old: Follow simple box recipes, make pizzas, scramble eggs/make omelets, assemble tacos
- 11-13 years old: Bake muffins and cakes, brown ground beef for tacos, nachos, or sloppy joes, cook pancakes, make hot dogs and burgers, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, mac and cheese
- Teens: Use the grill for chicken, burgers, and more
Thanksgiving and other “kitchen holidays” are some of my favorite because we’ve got upbeat music on and we’re all working together.
Related: The Joy Of Cooking Together
Consider giving them age appropriate kitchen tools or even a fun apron to help increase their enthusiasm.
COOKING TOGETHER FOCUSES ON FAMILY
Sitting down together to eat a meal your child has helped make is so special.
We love to eat by candlelight (and we do it almost nightly) because it makes the table seems nicer. The conversation seems to flow better, too.
Teaching your kids to invest time in nourishing those they love is a valuable lesson. In my experience, it creates family togetherness when we serve one another, and cooking is one way to do that.
The sense of pride they feel contributing to the meal is also special.
As they get older, there might even be a signature dish they do better than anyone.
We have a son who make the best coffee, and he loves when I ask him to brew it in the morning.
We have a daughter who makes a delicious stir fry and she loves to serve it to company.
Helping them find their “special dish” boosts confidence, which is always a good thing.
COOKING TOGETHER IS JUST PLAIN FUN!
Plus, it’s fun.
Roll out the dough, decorate the cookies, chop the lettuce, grill the burgers…TOGETHER!
It’s important for parent and children to have fun together, especially during ‘learning moments.’
Working together builds teamwork, but doing it in the kitchen makes it easier and more fun. You can have one child chop cucumbers while another shreds lettuce and another chooses the salad dressing. Voila!
You just created part of a yummy dinner or lunch…together!