This morning, on WFLA’s Daytime, I taped a Click Here about cooking with children. My focus was on engaging youngsters at an early age to get them excited about trying new foods, eating nutritiously and enjoying the process of creating something from scratch. I’ll be posting the video clip soon.
In the meantime, I wanted to share some cooking tips that I didn’t have time to feature on air. These tips are valuable, in terms of helping children develop an affinity for cooking and good eating habits when they grow up.
Of course, I’d love to receive any suggestions you might have! To the person who posts the best suggestion, I’ll send brand new cooking utensils from Lego. They’re adorable!
- Cleanliness is key. Encourage children to wash their hands before and during meal preparation. Explain the importance of hand-washing and food safety.
- My Space: Create a drawer that’s just for the kids. It can include microwavable bowls, plastic utensils and measuring cups, plastic cookie cutters, sponges and potholders.
- Teach children how to pick perfect produce. Show them what to look for in a ripe vs. unripe banana or peach, for example. Soon, they’ll be able to select what you need on their own!
- Asking for help is a good thing. Explain to children that chefs work as a team. So, when a child needs help, he should feel free to ask for assistance. It’s the right thing to do.
- Place very young children on a stool in front of the sink and give them plastic measuring cups or measuring spoons to play with. At this age, they can still get a sense of being involved.
- A great introduction to cooking is to have children mix together meatloaf ingredients with their hands. Younger children who love messy things will really enjoy this experience!
- Dropping batter into muffin tins is another safe activity for children in the kitchen. Rolling cookie dough into balls is also a fun activity.
- Table setting and dish washing are always good jobs for older children and teens. Both are important life skills.
- Also for older children, show them how to remove hot plates and pans from the oven using mitts or pot holders. Explain that steam can be just as hot as an open flame or electric coil.
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers handy (i.e. fire department, paramedics, poison control). Everyone should know where it’s posted.