It’s no secret that letting kids help in the kitchen has a direct correlation to their willingness to eat the foods served at meal time. But did you know there is an added bonus? Less work for you! Not at first, obviously. In fact, with the initial few go-rounds the kids may leave quite a bit of destruction in their wake. This is a learning curve, my friends. Stick it out for the first few tries and before you know it you’ll be patting yourself on the back for your unparalleled parenting skills.
Here are five easy ways to get your kids to help in the kitchen!
- Take them shopping
I’m not advocating bribery. Take them with you to the grocery store or farmers market. And here’s the kicker: Let them pick some of the produce. Yes, I know it’s easier to go while they’re in school. You’re raising individuals who are going to be full fledged adults one day, you don’t want them fumbling through their food shopping. Plus, when kids get to choose new or well-loved foods, they’re more likely to try – and enjoy – them.
- Teach them planning skills
Now that you have the food in house, sit down for 20 minutes with your kids and discuss what meals can be made with the foods they’ve picked. If you prefer, you can do this step first to plan a shopping list, but I find the guilt factor (hey, I’m human) of already having purchased the food a big motivator in finding a recipe for it. Search for a recipe that involves kid-friendly steps of stirring, mixing, or if they’re old enough, baking. Leave the chopping and open-flame related steps for the adults unless you’re absolutely positive your kid is knife-skill and fire ready.
- Mark the calendar
Pick a night, or morning if it better suits your schedule, when the kids will be responsible for cooking a meal for the family. Once a month is fine to start, but don’t let it fall by the wayside. Work up to a weekly commitment as quickly as you see fit.
- Forget Perfection
They may not do it perfectly. The carrots may be undercooked, the toast may get burnt, and the pasta may be drowned in marinara. Take this opportunity to complement them on their hard work and next time, during the planning stages – NOT during that meal – offer some tips for better cooking success.
- Eat with grace
Appreciate the courage and dedication your child poured into making this meal, just as you would expect others to do if had you made it yourself. Thank them, complement what they’ve done well, and smile. Even if the only edible part is the raw broccoli and hummus for Mediterranean night. No sour pusses allowed at the table!
Children don’t actually want to be waited on, they want to know they are a valuable and important part of the family. Giving them responsibility that is integral to the functioning of the household builds their self-esteem and creates lifelong positive memories. Now get cooking!