Hand over that apron to you little ones, and let them start cooking in the kitchen! Most parents I know don’t start cooking lessons until the teen years, but there are so many benefits to starting young.
About two years ago I started cooking with my little ones. I decided that my then 6, 8, and 10 year-old would each be responsible for cooking one meal a week. They could choose the night and the meal. I shopped for the ingredients, but they had to learn to read the recipe, turn on and off the stove, measure ingredients, and cut up meats and vegetables. I knew there would be long-term benefits to equipping them with this necessary life skill but I had now idea it would have such a positive impact on our home so quickly.
Here are a few of the benefits that came from teaching my kids to cook:
1. They appreciated the food they ate. The first meal my middle girl made was breakfast – scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and toast. Her brother took one bite of the bacon and said, “This is delicious! You did a great job!” I was shocked because this was the same bacon I made many times before; only I had never received a compliment like that.
2. They tried new foods. It wasn’t too long after my kids started making dinner that I saw less macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets in our meal rotation. Not only were they a bit more adventurous when choosing recipes but they were also willing to try foods they would normally refuse because their siblings prepared it.
3. They took their new responsibility seriously. My children soon realized that if they didn’t cook on their day no one was going to eat. I was happy to find they stepped up to the challenge. Knowing that other people in our family depended on them gave them a sense of belonging as well as the motivation to do a good job.
4. They shared what they were doing with their friends. On the request of my children, we started having extended play dates with friends so that they could join us for dinner. My children were eager to show off their new skills. We found that most of their friends had a desire to cook, too, and were willing to lend a hand.
5. They ate healthier. Since we followed recipes to make dinner, we ate fewer processed and ready-made foods. The farmer’s market became their favorite place to shop for fresh ingredients. My kids learned to touch, smell, and taste whole foods, which made them more interested in using them in their dishes.
They expanded their knowledge of cooking. When we went to the library, my kids checked out cookbooks and food magazines. Saturday morning cartoons were replaced by cooking shows that they recorded on the DVR. Suddenly I had no complaints about the things they were watching on TV!
Let’s Get Cooking!
An excellent resource to help you get started teaching your kids how to cook is The Berenstain Bears Country Cookbook. The recipes in this book are perfectly suited for little hands. Among the 40 recipes, your children will learn to prepare are Creamy Chicken Soup, Quiche, Green Noodle Lasagna, and Red Beans & Rice. What I love most about this book is the bold graphics and simple instructions that are paired with colorful photographs of the finished dish. The only problem you may have is deciding which recipe to try first!
The initial idea of cooking with my kids was a bit overwhelming. I was hesitant at first because I knew that it would be more efficient to plan and make our meals myself, but I am glad I didn’t let that stop me. I found that it was well worth the effort that it took to develop this skill with my children.
Recipes to Try (Click to View):
Crepes with Berries:
Watch the Video: Cooking with the Berenstain Bears
* * *
Have you tried letting your child help in the kitchen with meals? Join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily