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10 Cooking Skills Your Kids Should Know

When Erica was about 7, she decided she wanted to learn how to cook!  I had been having the conversation with her: "When you are a mom, you are going to need to know how to cook!"  So, she pulled out an old spiral bound notebook, put page numbers throughout the ENTIRE thing, and asked me to spell each and every ingredient for our salad (the recipe she is holding was a bread recipe).  Then she started an index.  I thought it was so stinkin cute, I wanted to rush out and buy her her very own CUTE recipe binder where she can collect her favorite recipes until she leaves home.  I resisted however, and decided to let her do it her own way. She doesn't know any better.

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Kids need to learn cooking skills.  It is more difficult and time consuming to let your kids help you in the kitchen. But studies show, if they do, they are more likely to eat healthier, and when they leave home they will prepare healthier meals for their own families. And the cycle of  health continues.. I was reading in the paper a few years ago, our generation (today's mom's and dad's) do not know the basic steps of cooking. That we complain we have no time to be in the kitchen to make food for our families, yet we spend an average of 4 hours in front of the TV a day. So, let's get back into the kitchen with our kids! I promise,they will not only learn vital skills, but you'll be preparing them for life when they aren't under your roof any more!  

These are the 10 things I felt were important for my kids to learn, and which they've mastered beautifully.

  1. Make toast- I do believe this was the very first "cooking" skill my kids have mastered, and to this day, I think they make toast every single day!  chocolate banana peanut butter toast
  2. Measure things- I haven't met one child (mine or anyone else's) who doesn't like to help with measuring things!  I love turning this into a math lesson as well. I will say, if you are using a 1 cup, but the recipe says to use 1/2 cup, what should you do?DSC_0537
  3. Press Garlic- Since my kids were little, they've loved pressing garlic through our garlic press.  If you don't have one, you should get one!  They are great for adding flavor to any roasted veggies.
  4. Make their own lunch!  I have been a big proponent of kids making their own lunches from the time they are in kindergarten or even before!  I've had parents complain about lunch making in the mornings, and I just have to say, "Why are you making 5 lunches every day? Your kids can do that!  We have specific foods they can add to their lunch of course, but they do it all themselves. (some ideas here).
  5. Make rice or hot cereal!  We've done both in the rice cooker, and your kids can do this at age 4, I promise!  You just need to teach them the 2:1 grain principle.  Most grains we make need 2 cups of water, for every 1 cup of grains! You can write it right on your rice cooker. Of course, this isn't always true- but for most of the grains we make, it is!
  6. Cutting! You don't have to give them the big butcher knife, but they really can cut certain things from early on. This is my daughter when she was 8.  I found an old blog post that SHE wrote- lol.  We have a crinkle cutter that my kids have been using to cut veggies for years and years!   They also can use kitchen shears to snip up produce and cut other foods like quesadillas or pizza.p9120038
  7. Wash the produce.  Kids can do this as young as 3 years old.  We have a homemade veggie wash that kids LOVE to spray! Washing veggies
  8. Mash food! I didn't have a picture of this, but mashing bananas for banana bread, or even to help you feed the baby!
  9. Plan meals!  We have a template for meal planning that you can print and fill out with your kids! Meal planning is a skill that most parents don't realize is important to teach, yet it's a skill that will help them eat healthy foods when they are independent.  We have this four day template that I've used to teach in schools and scouts that remind kids to choose foods from each food group, to ensure they are eating a balanced meal (print here) .mealplanlesson
  10. Clean the kitchen! How can you teach cooking skills without the most important part, cleaning up when you are finished!  Kids can set the table, clear the table, fill the dishwasher, rinse dishes, recycle the scraps, wipe the counters, etc!

I do believe one of the  most important parenting lessons for your kids is giving them the confidence they need to do hard things!  Kids do not become confident when they are asked to do things too simple for their age.  Asking my 12 year old to tie her shoes, is not going to instill confidence! Asking her to make dinner for the family on the other hand, pushes her to do hard things that builds her self-esteem, and helps her feel important.  Kids can do hard things!

What kitchen skills did I miss?  

 

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Comments

04/04/2013 8:04am
Hey Amy, Thanks so much for the nice post. I'm sharing it to my page to pass along these important ideas. Meredith
04/04/2013 8:05am
Thanks for the post Amy! You've shared some important ideas here. I'm sharing it to my page too so that my friends and family can see it too.
04/04/2013 1:53pm
I've just discovered your blog. You are a smart cookie Amy! No pun intended. I love your thoughts on kids and cooking. What a wonderful experience for them (and you). They are never too young to learn. Your last paragraph really makes a statement! Good going Amy! I love it.
04/04/2013 2:48pm
I agree 100%. All kids should know how to do these basic things in the kitchen. My kids love measuring out ingredients too. Thanks for sharing.
04/04/2013 7:06pm
I love this! We grow up doing these things and think that in order to provide a "better life" for our children it means they shouldn't have to do all we did. But then we scratch our heads when our children grow up and turn out irresponsible and lame. We turned out so well because of the things we were allowed/expected to do and cooking is one of them! I also love that you have all of your kids in there helping - boys and girls. Both need to learn the basics because both will need to eat when they leave home! :)
04/07/2013 5:01pm
I totally agree with you, Tia!
04/05/2013 1:34am
My kids really like helping, too... but I'm guilty of not letting them help because a lot of times I'm cooking at the gas-fire stove and I think it's too dangerous. But these are some good suggestions. I think I will look for a crinkle cutter. It might help them to eat their veggies too. I know my oldest likes cucumbers - so this could be great for her.
mandy
04/06/2013 11:18am
Love the ideas. i want to teach my kids how to cook and be apart of what they eat and i think they will eat the food if they help. how can i become a better cook and learn how so i can teach my kids how to cook?
04/08/2013 8:36am
Mandy- YOUTUBE! I love going to Youtube for cooking tutorials. They are such a great resource without having to go to actual cooking classes.
04/07/2013 4:58pm
I love this! My mom grew up in China in a poor village, so she had to learn to cook for her family when she was 5 years old. On the other end of the spectrum is my FIL who is the youngest of 9 siblings, and only know, to this day, probably a handful of dishes. Now, my parents really demonstrated their love for us through meals (they still do), so we never learned much from them, but I love all the resources available for us to learn how to cook.
04/09/2013 8:35am
A well known chef here in the UK said the next generation of kids will be the first who won't know how to boil an egg! I have my two boys 6 & 10 set the table and clear the table each meal time. Their not washing the dishes yet - but I'm working on it. I also get them involved in making breakfast. My 10 year old is now an expert in making and flipping pancakes. They love it. At the end of the day, you're kids should be a part of the family not the centre of it. Many parents get this mixed up. Great post by the way.
04/09/2013 7:54pm
Wow, great content. I love it! Surely will bookmark this site. And for sure I will try this with my kids! Thanks for sharing!
04/10/2013 11:39am
This is a great post! My daughter just turned 4 so I have her help me as often as possible in the kitchen. I think it not only teaches about cooking, but proper hygiene as well. It drums home the importance of washing hands and keeping the workstation clean.
04/11/2013 11:53pm
Great post! Reminds me how important it is to include kids in the kitchen and help them feel capable by teaching them how to perform important tasks. What a great way to build character and be a family team player at the same time!
04/17/2013 4:44am
Hi there, I think using the juicer and food processor to make healthy smoothies should have featured in your list. This would help them rethink their snack choices and choose something healthier over cookies in the long run. Just my two cents! Alana
05/07/2013 5:47am
This is a great post! I have an 8-year old daughter who loves to help me in the kitchen. Just yesterday, she helped me to bake her favorite cake. It is really fun!
05/14/2013 7:10am
My son is only 3 and a half but he has been helping her bake since he was 3. If you don't get them involved when they are interested you might not get another opportunity. Great Post. :-)
06/18/2013 8:40am
Wow! This is a very well written post. I am impressed. 

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