Before I had children, I asked a friend with kids to describe what having children felt like. Her words are the closest anyone’s come to accurately describing it. She said, “Having children is like having your heart jump out of your chest and grow legs.” And she was so right. Watching my boys grow and learn – my heart is right there with them. They are a part of me, and I am a part of them.
So it only makes sense, since I’m a mama who cooks every day, that I would share my culinary skills with my children. I want to share my life with them. And I want to start nourishing possibilities for them. Will they be the next Bobby Flay? (a superstar chef on The Food Network.) I don’t know, but being able to make things in the kitchen is a critical life skill that I want my children to enjoy.
If you’ve been wanting to get your kids engaged in cooking you’ll love this post. I’m sharing my secrets, and a few tips to make cooking with kids meaningful and fun!
10 Tips for Cooking with Kids
My boys love to help in the kitchen. And we’ve had our share of foils and flops. But we’ve also enjoyed the “fruits” of our labors with delicious baked goods, and hearty meals.
We baked up some cupcakes and I taught the boys how to decorate the tops. We also mixed up some Nestlé Nesquik® as a small reward for their hard work. At the end of our kitchen adventures the boys loved drinking #Nesquick and eating fresh strawberries. We saved the cupcakes for a special occassion – scheduled for later in the week.
Tip #1 for Cooking with Kids : Keep it simple.
My boys are still young. Ages three and five to be exact. Cooking can seem overwhelming to a grown up. Just imagine what it feels like to a child. 😉 I try to keep things simple. If you’ve never cooked with a child, start with the simplest recipe you can find. Some ideas for keeping it simple: toss a salad, mix Nestlé Nesquik® with milk, add paper liners to a cupcake tin, and/or sprinkle “sprinkles” onto a cupcake. Start simple and you can build from there. I own a few vinyl tablecloths and the boys can sit on them while mixing to ensure any mess is “captured” and easy to clean.
Tip #2 for Cooking with Kids: Start with easy Tasks
Right now, I’m doing things like showing the boys the directions on the back of a box. I’ll ask them to do tasks I know they can handle, things like stirring batter, or sifting salt. I’ll work with them on actual cooking over an open flame later. For now we’re just focusing on mastering one simple task at a time.
Tip #3 for Cooking with Kids: Demonstrate the Skill
Before I ask my boys to try anything new, I first demonstrate the skill. I show them how I do it and then I ask them to copy. If needed, I hold their hand and I walk them through it. My three-year-old will often say, “Mommy, help me.” I think he can shake a sprinkle shaker by himself, but if he asks for help I’m more than happy to lend a hand. One day he won’t be asking for my help, and I’ll miss the days when I could hold his tiny hand in my hand as we shake on sprinkles.
Tip #4 for Cooking with Kids: Talk them Through
With young children this can seem challenging at times. But talk them through even if they’re so excited they’re not really listening. The words will sink in. I walked them through pouring in batter, “You don’t want to fill they liner completely. Leave some space at the top to give the cake room to grow.”
Tip #5 for Cooking with Kids: Pick things they’re Excited About
A question like “Want to help me decorate some cupcakes?” in my home is always going to result in an enthusiastic “Yes”! My boys know what cupcakes are, and even through they’re not the epitome of nutrition, they are a fabulous tool for getting kids in the kitchen. This ready-made box of cupcake mix was something my boys got very excited about. If they’re not excited about the project, it’s hard to put my 10 tips for cooking with kids into practice.
Tip #6 for Cooking with Kids: Make them Stretch
My three-year-old was hesitant about adding the cake liners to the cupcake tin. “I can’t do it mommy!” I encouraged him and explained that he could do it, then I demonstrated the skill and talked him through. Once he was throughly encouraged, he tried it. And you know what? He did great! He stretched himself to try something new and was wildly successful. I put in one liner and he did the rest.
Tip #7 for Cooking with Kids: Assign Responsibilities
Since I have two boys, I gave each a responsibility for a specific task. This division of labor simplified the process and gave each child a sense of ownership. Each child said “Look mommy” at the completion of their task and I was able to inspect their work and walk and talk them through any corrections if needed.
Tip #8 for Cooking with Kids: Praise them along the Way and Make it Fun!
If flour lands on our faces we just laugh and laugh. If goop spills on the countertop, we chuckle and I show them how to clean it with wet paper towels. Even as someone who cooks every day I make mistakes, we all make them. Learning how to enjoy life even through set-backs is an important part of growing up. With every try they make, I’m right there encouraging them to try some more. And when they reach the finish line? See those smiles? They know they’ve done a good job!
They also loved the cute chef aprons and hats I found. Sometimes dressing up makes an activity seem more like play, and a lot less like work. It certainly made our cooking lesson fun!
Tip #9 for Cooking with Kids: Build Memories
The best part about cooking with my kids is that we’re spending time together making memories. Now when my boys see me in the kitchen they ask to help. Depending upon what I’m doing I may slow down, step back, and include them in the process. My hope is that one day their wives will thank me for teaching the boys how to cook. Being able to pitch in at dinnertime or when hosting guests can be a huge blessing for their future families. I want to pass a legacy of a love for cooking on to future generations.
Tip #10 for Cooking with Kids: Explain the “Why?”
Whether it’s baking up treats or fixing a four-course meal, making dishes in the kitchen is a gift. And it’s something families can enjoy together. My boys understand the importance of family meal-time, we work very hard to ensure the four of us (daddy included) eat supper together every night. At the moment, mommy makes all the meals… but one day… I think these boys will have their turn making meals for mom and dad. And we can all celebrate our accomplishments!
Breakfast in bed? I think it’s on the horizon… 😉
Nourishing Possibilities with Nestlé Nesquik®
This post is inspired by Nestlé Nesquik® who believes in nourishing possibilities for future generations. You can find Nesquik® at your local grocery store or online at Nesquik® online, Nesquik® on Pinterest (check out the kid-friendly recipes), or Nesquik® on Facebook. Many thanks to Nestlé for sponsoring today’s story and encouraging me to give my kids the right start with Nestlé Nesquik®.
Just a few wonderful tidbits about Nestlé Nesquik® for nourishing families.
- Nestlé Nesquik® Chocolate Low Fat Milk is made with 100% real milk and has 8g of protein in every 8 fluid ounce serving.
- Research suggests that low-fat chocolate milk, like Nesquik®, contains the ideal 3:1 mix of carbs and protein to help refuel and restore exhausted muscles after an intense game or practice.
- With 40% of your kids’ Daily Value of Calcium and 12% Daily Value of Potassium, Nestlé Nesquik® Chocolate Low Fat Milk is a wonderful post activity snack!
- Nesquik Chocolate Milk proudly contains no artificial colors or sweeteners (*Errrr, I can’t say the same about the cupcakes!)
How do you cook with kids in the kitchen?
Did you enjoy my list of 10 Tips for Cooking with Kids? Do you have any fun tips to share to help me bake, cook, and create more with my kids in the kitchen? I’m always looking for new ideas! In our home, cooking is “the New Frontier” for my kids. And we’re having a blast exploring it together. Feel free to leave a link to friendly recipes or tips on your blog if you like. I love how online connections makes it possible to string our parenting wisdom together. And another reader may benefit from your thoughts!
Please leave a comment below and join the conversation with the HappyandBlessedHome.com community online. I love hearing from my readers.
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