Hey there! Today I hope to encourage the weary with some some basics for cooking with little people. There is a reason the tag line of NTK is “while the babies sleep, I cook.” It is HARD for me to have patience in the kitchen. The slow measuring of flour, the extra time to crack an egg, the subsequent fishing out of the egg shell…It is actually really hard for me if I am being honest with you. But it is also a wonderful opportunity to practice patience. For both the kids and myself.
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Recognize that messes are not BAD. Messes happen and that is what wash clothes and cleaning products are designed for. A mess simply has to be cleaned up. It is not a sin.
Have some towels at the ready. In my experience, kids do not like sticky hands and having a damp cloth nearby to wipe saves your counters.
Start small. Allow them to crack the egg. Or pour the oats into the cookie batter. Or peel the banana. You can include them in small ways and slowly increase what they are capable of.
Put them on your level. Whether you use a chair or invest in a learning tower, allowing them to see what is happening is key. Imagine making a cake if you couldn’t see into the bowl!
Get wide mouth bins for flour, sugar etc. These allow kids to scoop out easily. We adore these Rubbermaid containers that are super wide and also airtight. The 16 cup perfectly holds a bag of flour.
Invest in some kids’ knives. We have used plastic knives for years and they are perfect for learning. You can also simply give kids a butter knife and allow them to practice on soft things like banana and watermelon. I plan to get a sharper kids knife like this one for John Robert and Scout to move them to the next level.
Let them practice peeling something simple like a carrot. Carrots are so cheap! Even if they butcher one or two, who cares?! I let me kids use the same peeler I use and it has been great.
Don’t forget, filling a pot with water and pouring pasta into the pot are still valuable cooking lessons. I think so often when we think cooking with kids we immediately go to baking from scratch. This doesn’t have to be the case. They can start by pouring the artificial cheese into the easy mac!
Let them be a part of the cleanup. Whether it’s loading the dishes or using the dust buster to suck up all the oats they spilled, allowing them to be a part of the cleanup teaches them an important lesson about cooking: there is always cleanup!
No matter the outcome, remember it is an invaluable experience. You are teaching them amazing skills they will use for a lifetime. So let them shape the cookies or fill the muffin tins unevenly. Those muffins are likely not being entered in a baking contest.
The labor of teaching your kids to cook and help you in the kitchen is just that – LABOR. But we do this in the hopes that one day, they will miraculously learn how to make their own sandwich, operate the microwave by themselves, and maybe one day even make a meal for YOU. I pride myself on efficiency and speed and while I know there are both admirable things to go after, there is something to be said for a life that isn’t hurried. So, I choose to slow down, let them pull up a chair, and teach them about one of my favorite things. I hope these words encouraged you to take the time to do the same. ❤️
Hello! I'm Kate. Mom to four wonderful little people. While they sleep, I cook. I am so glad you found my site. I hope you find some yummy recipes to feed the ones you love and useful hacks to help you not go crazy in the process.