My kids love to cook and bake, especially my daughter, and while I enjoy having them in the kitchen with me it can be a bit chaotic at times. My kitchen (unfortunately) isn’t very big so we’re usually tripping over each other constantly and then of course there is the constant bickering between the two of them. They bicker over who gets what spoon or whisk, who got to stir longer than the other, who did more than the other, and on and on. It’s usually a very noisy, messy experience with them but even with that, they always end up having fun and they are so proud of the meals and treats that they create.
I’ve learned that in order to have a successful experience in the kitchen with them there needs to be some guidelines for both the kids AND for me so that we have fun and don’t drive each other completely crazy. As with anything where kids are concerned, having routines and expectations in place really help to make things run a little more smoothly. With that being said, here are my top tips to survive having kids in the kitchen with you!
Choose A Recipe Together – It’s important to involve your kids in this step because if you don’t cook/bake something they are excited about they will lose interest, be completely bored, and end up walking away leaving you to finish on your own. Give them a few kid friendly options to choose from and let them pick which they want, they will appreciate feeling like they have a say in the cooking process.
Gather Your Ingredients – Teach your children to first read through the recipe and then pull everything they need from the pantry, fridge, and freezer so that it’s ready and accessible as they go through each step of the cooking/baking process. Having your ingredients organized, prepped, and ready is called “mise en place” which is just a fancy term for having everything in its place. Your little chefs will love knowing that fancy French term, my kids do!
Teach Them Good Kitchen Hygiene – Make sure to encourage hand washing both before you begin cooking and throughout the process. Also, remind them that good cooks do not stick their fingers in the food, lick their fingers or hands, or lick any of the utensils being used. If your kids are anything like mine, they will need CONSTANT reminding of this.
Get Ready, Get Set………. – Hair up, hands washed, aprons on!
ANNNNNND Cook!!! – Read through each step with them and then let them take ownership of each phase of the cooking process. Depending on their age and ability, assign them different tasks such as dicing, slicing, measuring, sifting, mixing, etc. Let them do as much as they can as you supervise, jumping in to help them only as needed.
As they are cooking/baking take this opportunity to teach them. Teach them about flavors, cooking technique, what certain tools are used for, kitchen safety, etc. The goal is for them to grow into competent, knowledgeable cooks as opposed to just getting one recipe over with.
Be Patient, Expect Messes – Things go much slower in the kitchen when you cook/bake with kids. So allow yourself some extra time and remind yourself to be patient with them. They don’t have the ability to measure, chop, and stir as fast as you or I. Give them the space to work at their own pace.
Also, kids are messy little creatures by nature so cooking with them is not usually a very neat and tidy experience. Expect that they will get messy as will your kitchen. Once you accept that fact, you’ll be a lot more relaxed throughout the whole process.
Don’t Forget To Enjoy Yourself – Remind yourself to enjoy the experience. My kids get SO excited to be in the kitchen and as chaotic and messy as it gets while we’re in there, I always try to remind myself to have fun with them, laugh a little, and enjoy our time together. Cooking and baking together should be a fun experience that you share. So enjoy it. Every crazy, loud, messy minute of it!
Food memories are some of the strongest memories we have as humans. Don’t believe me? Just check out this article: Why Food Memories Feel So Powerful When I think back over my own life some of my best memories center around food. I specifically remember the times when I was in the kitchen cooking with my family and those are same kind of memories I want to create for my own children. I would love for them to be 40 years old, cooking “Mommy’s Tomato Sauce” for their own kids, and thinking back to that time when they learned how to make it cooking alongside me! That would be awesome!
So get your kids in the kitchen and get cooking! More importantly, enjoy every single second of it so that they do too!! Have fun, make memories, and eat well!