Turning your child into a sous chef is easier than you think. Teach her a few simple tasks and who knows? You could be training the next Barefoot Contessa or Bobby Flay.
Before you begin, take control of your kitchen with these simple steps:
1. Have patience. Depending on your personality, cooking with kids can be fabulous fun or terribly tortuous. Just remember that cooking with kids isn’t about perfection, it’s about rolling up your sleeves and having fun. Expect the kitchen to get messy, but remember: you’re teaching your child life skills about nutrition and cooking. If that doesn’t help, just breathe and count to ten – hey, math skills!
2. Start with a clean kitchen. Empty the dishwasher and fill the sink with hot, soapy water. This is great advice whether you’re cooking with the under-four-foot crowd or on your own.
3. Set out the pots, pans, measuring cups, etc. If you need it, set it out. That way, you don’t have to go hunting around for the cheese grater while your child balances dangerously close to the stove, unattended.
4. Prep first, on your own. This is especially important if your sous-chef-in-training has a short attention span.
5. Designate a trash bowl, to catch all the scraps and bits.
Now that your kitchen is kid-ready, it’s time to get cooking.
1. Start with a trip to the bathroom. An empty bladder and clean little hands are a must.
2. Make something your kid likes. Why teach him to make chicken cordon bleu if he really wants mac and cheese? There’s comfort in the familiar.
3. Allow them to play with their food: rip the parsley to shreds, separate pasta shapes or dig through a bowl of flour. Cooking with fresh herbs encourages your child to experience new smells, from rosemary to basil to mint and beyond.
4. Teach your child how to measure ingredients, an essential foundation of cooking. Added bonus: sneaking in a math lesson.
5. Assemble the dish. Whether it’s tacos or hamburgers, giving your child control over what she’s eating encourages independence from an early age.
Cooking with your kids is a fun way to spend time together. And even if your child never makes it to Top Chef, you’ve given her skills for life.