There are so many reasons we (read: adults) love to cook. With a good recipe and great ingredients at our disposal, preparing and eating a fantastic meal becomes an adventure in itself. However, trying new foods, flavors, and techniques can be even more fun if you’ve got company.
A great place to start? Involve your kids! There’s no better place for them to experience cooking than at home. Start building culinary habits early, and you’ll foster curiosity and an open mind, not to mention some kitchen confidence. Chances are, even the pickiest of eaters will try something new if it has their personal handprint on it.
Cooking with the family offers other advantages as well. In sharing mealtime prep with the kids, you may find everyone sharing more in general, like a silly story from their day. A few laughs later, you’ll be well on your way to having some fun and making new memories together. Using the suggestions below to get things started, we bet you’ll discover that the upsides of cooking together will far outweigh any extra cleanup or slower cook time.
Chop Some Veggies
Encourage kids from an early age to become comfortable (and safe!) using a knife. A good place to start is with smaller, fresh produce that is easy to handle, like string beans, cucumbers, or carrots. Show them how to hold the knife correctly, and supervise as needed. Let younger kids start with a small serrated knife and progress to using a larger chef’s knife when ready. For more security, place a damp paper towel under the cutting board to prevent sliding.
Roll it Out
Let kids use a rolling pin, fill, and fold dough for recipes like empanadas, calzones, and pizza. Our Buffalo Chicken Pizza would be a perfect place to start.
Wash and Dry
Kitchen helpers of all ages can wash lettuces or leafy greens like kale or Swiss chard. To do this, fill a large bowl with water, add the separated leaves, stir, and let dirt sink to the bottom of the bowl. Wait a minute or so, lift the leaves from the bowl and transfer to a salad spinner or to a plate lined with paper towels and dry well.
Make it Crispy
Practice makes perfect, so give your sous chef the task of mastering the chicken cutlet three-step: dredge, dip, and dredge. This creates a crispy crust for dishes like Crunchy Chicken Milanese.
Turn Up the Heat
The stovetop is fair kitchen territory for kids of all ages. Show them how to hold the pot or pan with one hand, and stir with the other. Watch your kid take the reigns (or, err, spatula) and look out for that proud smile as they stir up this Italian street corn to go along with a juicy steak.