Summer break is here and I have yet to even think about a plan. I know my daughter will continue with dance on Monday nights, both kids participate in a running club that meets Monday and Thursday mornings and I would love to head to my moms, who lives four hours away, at least a few times. Other than that, I guess it will be the pool and the beach. Oh yes, I have also secured a few mornings with our sitter so I can duck out alone to work in peace. So maybe I am more planned than I give myself credit for. Considering our schedule is more lenient then during the school year, I plan to get the kids a bit more involved in the kitchen. Sure, they already are, to a certain extent but let’s be honest here, it is not always easy to move quickly while there are other people present in the kitchen. Am I right?
My two kids, ages 9 and 7, are already fairly active in the kitchen. My daughter is especially eager when I pull out the camera and tell her I will record her. How do you get your kids involved while you are cooking?
I recently shared with Kid Kritics, during their weekly online talk radio show (via RadioMD), some simple ways anyone can get their kids in the kitchen, even without them actually cooking.
1. Teach Proper Food Handling
This simply means showing your kids how to properly wash their hands and why it is one of, if not the, most important steps while working in the kitchen. I teach my kids to keep their hands clean and when they are making such things as meatballs, I explain to them about taking care to keep focused, not to touch anything but the meat. When we are done prepping, we walk to the sink together to properly clean off the residue.
2. Clean and Rinse Produce
Currently, I love Whole Foods Market produce wash. It is safe enough for kids to use, naturally, so they can simply spray, rub it around and rinse. The washes are great but even if you are not using them, still have the kids get up to the sink and rinse the produce as best as possible with cool water.
3. Measure Ingredients
Considering my daughter (heading into 4th grade now) is learning about fractions, measuring is a great teaching opportunity for her. With younger kids, it is an easy task for them to simply dump the ingredients into the mixing bowl even though you may be the one who does the actual measuring.
This recipe here is really not a recipe at all. I simple sliced up some French bread, chopped tomatoes and then placed all the ingredients onto a platter. My two kids took control mixing the vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, fresh basil and the tomatoes. They then topped the bread slices while the oven heated up. They loved taking nearly full control of this simple appetizer.
4. Make Toast
For some, this can come as a surprise but if you teach your kids to only use their hands to add and remove the bread, as well as taking care to be nearby for safety, it can be one of the first things they do on their own. My daughter loves her toast with butter (although she knows one of those slices needs to have peanut butter for protein and satiety) and my son loves his nut butters. So on days for which I am in a pinch, they will make toast spread with nut butter of choice and serve it up with fruit and a glass of water. Sometimes they will also grab some yogurt as well. Simple, quick and a great nutrient boost.
5. Use a Garlic Press
Confession time! I do not have a garlic press. I have gotten this brilliant idea from my beautiful boss, Amy, at Super Healthy Kids. She has older kiddos, and that was one thing she has had them doing for a few years now. I call it brilliant because it is yet another way to get the kids in the kitchen and actually feeling like they are cooking.
6. Take Control With a Rice Cooker
Ok, maybe this is another kitchen tool I do not have, but I know that it can be a great way to get the kids to take control in the kitchen. It is simply adding food to the cooker and turning it on. I guess you could also do this with a slow cooker. (Hmmm…I do have a slow cooker!)
7. Cut Food With Child-Safe Knives
Yes, it may seem like a scary job to give our children, but when you are using the right tools it can be so much fun for them. Head on over to places like Bed Bath and Beyond and you should be able to find them. Have the kids choose and cut their own fruits and veggies and you will have a healthy eater in the making.
8. Kids Can Make Their Own Lunches
It is summer break, right? Well, this is the best time to get them preparing their own lunches and when fall comes you just may have one less thing to worry about in the morning.
9. Meal Planning
I started having my kids get involved with meal planning a few years ago, so that would have made my daughter 7 years old and my son 5. I began by asking them what fruit and and veggie they would like in their lunch and I planned around that. Now, they actually write it all out on paper and they also know to give me at least 3 lunch ideas and to always include a fruit and veggie.
10. Set the Table & Clean Up
When I was growing up, dinner time had always been the time we all gathered to help out and even more importantly, to eat together (now there’s a concept not heard often enough these days). We would set the table, help my mom place the food out and then when we were done eating, we would all help my mom to clear the table. Do you remember that too?
Implementing these ideas will not only get them loving the kitchen but loving food that is fresh and good for them too!