Some of my happiest childhood memories are of time spent in the kitchen with my mom. It’s where my love for cooking started. To me, there’s just something so special about making a great dish together. Taking the time to create something with someone and for someone, is truly a gift.
Now that I have my own kids, I try to allow them to help me in the kitchen as much as possible. I hope they’ll have the same kinds of memories that I do, and that they’ll benefit from the skills they learn cooking with me.
But, just because it’s important to me, doesn’t mean that it’s always easy. Honestly, some days it’s anything but easy, and it definitely isn’t magical. There have been so many occasions that I just wanted to be “that mom” who cooks all the time with her kids. The one who doesn’t lose her temper because no one’s listening and her cupcakes are going to come out flat because someone messed up the ingredients. In reality, I am not that mom. I’m a perfectionist, but if there is one thing my kids have taught me it’s patience, but more important than that, they’ve taught me to get creative. I’ve learned a few tricks here and there that definitely make cooking with my kids easier, and to kick off my Kids in the Kitchen series I’m going to share them with you.
Now, I’m not promising that this will make your cooking experience effortless and magical, with unicorns and fairy dust, but it will make it a little easier and less frustrating.
1. Wear Protective Clothing
Ok, ok, that’s a bit extreme, but seriously, invest in an apron. You can find them super cheap on Amazon and they’ll save you an outfit or two!
2. Crack Eggs in a Separate Bowl
This may or may not seem obvious, but it took me a couple mishaps to learn this one and for awhile I avoided it all together. Allowing your kids to crack the eggs in a separate bowl means not having to worry about losing shells in your dish. It’ll take a bit of the stress off and enables you to teach your kids another fun skill.
3. Pre-Measure Ingredients
This tip is especially handy for younger kids. Measuring your ingredients before hand will allow you to keep things a bit cleaner as you go! You can put the bulkier things away and eliminates the more boring part for your kids, which in turn will help keep their attention longer. Measure everything into smaller bowls and allow your kids to just dump those bowls in as you go. This way you already know everything is measured out correctly and if you start getting a bit frazzled you won’t make mistakes.
As your kids get older you can still use this tip, just let them pre-measure things into the bowls themselves. This way if there is a mishap and they put too much in it’s an easy fix and you can just dump it back in and start over.
4. Assign Jobs
Before you start decide who gets to do what. Maybe one kid gets to add the dry ingredients and the other gets to add liquids. Or maybe one gets to make the bread dough and the other gets to kneed it. This way when it’s time to start mixing there’s no arguing (hopefully.)
Don’t forget to assign clean up jobs as well! Part of being in the kitchen is cleaning up, and the sooner your kids learn to help with that, the easier it’ll be later on.
5. Start with Simple Recipes
Start with easy recipes that have just a few ingredients. One of our favorite things to make are ham and cheese pockets because we can cut out the biscuits and the kids just have to add the ham and cheese. Recipes like these are hard to mess up.
6. Take it Slow
Don’t try and bake or cook with your kids on a day that you’re busy. Choose a day that you have a lot of down time so you can take your time. When we’re rushed we tend to make more mistakes and get frustrated easier. It will be more fun for everyone if you give yourself a lot of extra time.
Practice Makes Perfect
Well, maybe not perfect, but the more you let your kids help out in the kitchen the easier it will get for you and for them. You’ll both get a routine and learn what works best.
I hope that you find these tips helpful the next time you’re cooking with your little humans! Don’t miss my Kids in the Kitchen Post next week! We’ll be making some super cute St. Patrick’s Day “Pot of Gold” cake pops!
Feel free to ask me any questions and I’d love if you left me a comment to let me know what you think!