Today is National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day. In most cultures, learning to cook from your parents is a natural part of growing up. It may be connected to a holiday or religious tradition or simply a weekly dinner for a big family with deep ties to its heritage. But for many of us, that tradition sadly takes a back seat to the rigors of our daily existence. Cooking with the kids would be nice, but on a busy school night, dinner is just another chore to check off the list.
So how can we change that? It may be easier than you think and the benefits of taking just the first few steps are enormous. With some basic skills, a child is likely to be inspired to take the next steps on their own. They’ll experiment, they’ll make some mistakes (and messes), but hopefully they will realize that they can do it – and even enjoy it. Don’t forget, it’s not just about getting in touch with culture or creating some quality time. It’s also a critical step toward one day leading a healthy independent life.
In honor of National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day, here are three quality of lifehacks to teach your children to cook.
- Never cook alone. Even cooking a fast dinner under pressure is jammed with good lessons about how to be comfortable in a kitchen and how to create quick, but healthy and delicious meals. Think about all of the little things that happen when you cook – measuring ingredients and knowing the impact of getting a measurement wrong; cooking at the right temperature for the right length of time; keeping a cooking area clean and germ-free. Those are each a part of a basic foundation in cooking and must be learned.
- Send your child to a kid friendly cooking class or to a camp or club that includes cooking as an activity. It’s not news to any parent that sometimes your son or daughter is less likely to listen to you than they are to nearly any other adult. That’s why spending time learning in a class may be a terrific way to teach them some basic cooking skills as well as some recipes they might not learn at home. An added bonus to this is that you can later get your child to take over dinner one night to show off the meal they learned to cook in class.
- Watch other kids cook. Television – even reality television – is packed with shows featuring kids who cook. Some are aimed at little kids, but some are primetime cooking competitions with young people doing some incredible things in the kitchen. It may be entertaining, but it’s also informative. There are examples of kids taking chances, making mistakes, but also creating dishes they never in their wildest dreams thought they’d be able to make themselves. It’s great inspiration for an aspiring young chef. Sodexo also hosts a Future Chefs competition where kids make their favorite healthy recipes.
One of the keys to being a good cook is to be considerate of others who use the kitchen and all of its accoutrements. Cleaning up is an important part of cooking – and teaching the concept of clean-as-you-go is a great way to build a positive habit early. The bottom line is to just get your child(ren) in the kitchen and get started cooking. You’ll find that, like putting together any good meal, the results will be worth the work.
How do you spend time with your kids in the kitchen? Tell us in the comment section below.