What’s your first reaction when you hear the phrase “kids in the kitchen”? Stress? Get out!? Or fun? In our house, it can be any combination of these thoughts.
I love food and cooking. Since having kids, my time in the kitchen looks much different. Not so much of the jazzy music and red wine while cooking. More of kids biting my ankles and whining. Growing up, I loved helping my mom in the kitchen and creating recipes. She even bought me a French recipe book for kids that I will always cherish. I want my girls to not only have the same experience I had with my mom, but learn how to create food from scratch. Bringing kids into the kitchen can also spare you the stress of wondering what kind of trouble your kids are getting into in another part of the house! At least the mess you create in your kitchen is an approved mess that you are aware of.
Kids in the kitchen doesn’t have to be perfect, but it will always be special.
Below, I have included some tips and tools for all moms (or dads) who invite their kids into the kitchen with them. To be transparent, I only have girls, but boys in the kitchen can never be a bad thing! I believe that everyone should have at least one meal that they can perfect, even if it’s scrambled eggs.
Tips for cooking with kids
- Safety first: The two things I worry about the most are sharp knives and heat. Always be present when their is something hot or a knife nearby. Before you start preparing food, list the kitchen rules and set a consequence if they cannot follow the rules.
- Expect a mess: I see you Type A friends. There WILL be a mess. Don’t expect perfection. If a recipe doesn’t come out quite as you planned, don’t sweat it! The memories you create with your child are more important than the outcome of the meal (I have to calmly repeat this myself too). Kids will try it anyway because they were part of the process.
- Pull out all of the ingredients before you invite your kids into the kitchen. This will reduce their frustration with waiting and limit the temptation to play with kitchen gadgets. Depending on your child’s age, you may want to pre-measure some of the ingredients. This way, they can pour things into the bowl or pot without making big mistakes.
- Challenge your kids’ fine motor skills and confidence. Not sure if they are old enough to crack an egg? Let them practice over the sink. Not sure if they can pour the right amount into the bowl? Try it over a spare bowl so it does not mess up the whole recipe. Want them to practice using a knife? Let them practice with a dull knife and a banana first.
My Favorite Kitchen Tools for Kids
- Kids Cooking or Baking Kit: There are lots of options for kids these days. Even if you decide not to buy a kit, you can put together a bunch of kid-friendly gadgets like a whisk, spatula, kid-friendly knife, and measuring cups together in a designated space for them.
- Hand Crank Mixer: This is a fun and useful tool that will allow kids to be independent with mixing ingredients without the danger of a electric mixer.
- Kids’ Knife: Depending on your child’s age and dexterity, you may opt for a dull knife first. We purchased this one, but only use it with direct adult supervision since it is fairly sharp. We have been the Emergency Room too many times for other accidents. We don’t need a knife incident.
- Recipe Books: There are tons of choices for kids’ recipe books. If your child can read and likes to make up their own recipes, this will be very helpful! I can’t tell you how many times my six-year-old wanted to develop her own recipe. While I love the idea of encouraging her creativity, it wasted a lot of ingredients because let’s face it — mixing maple syrup with water and flour doesn’t produce a good result. If they can pick their own recipe and read the steps and ingredients, everyone will be happier!
- Try a Subscription Club: I know some families who love Raddish Kids. Their boxes ship monthly and include ingredients, recipes and tools for ages 4-14.
How do you feel about kids in the kitchen? What are your favorite things to cook as a family?