I remember helping my mom in the kitchen at a young age. I was so proud that I got to “help make dinner” by stirring some ingredients together for about 10 seconds. Over the years my tasks became more complex and my freedoms became greater. Eventually my sisters and I were each assigned a night of the week to consistently plan and cook a meal for the family. Along the way, my mom coached as we cooked and taught us as we watched her cook. These lessons have carried over into my first years out of the house, where safe cooking practices have become second nature and trying new recipes is fun. Want to start cooking with your kids? Even though I don’t have kids yet, here are a few things I remember my mom doing that have helped me greatly.
I’ve made a lot of salads in my life. From washing and drying lettuce to choosing toppings and slowly sawing through veggies with my little safety knife, I have had my hand in an abundance of lopsided salads made with whole snap peas and misshapen carrot pieces. It was a low-risk task that my mom could trust me with, and it gave me a sense of accomplishment — and a sudden interest in eating my creation. Giving younger kids a simple job like making a salad or dumping and stirring measured ingredients can get them involved in ways that match their skills and attention spans. Moving them up to more complicated tasks and jobs keeps the learning and interest going. This article lists some ideas for cooking skills to teach young kids.
From the beginning, my mom had us washing our hands and wiping the counter before we started, clearing and washing dishes after a meal, and disinfecting surfaces that had come in contact with raw meat. We got into good habits early, and they stuck. Cooking safety is also ingrained in me, as I find myself automatically turning pot handles away from the edge of the stove or putting hot pads far away from burners. Whether your kids end up gourmet chefs or not, the habits you teach them will carry into their adult lives and help them succeed in their own kitchens.
One of the first times we got to bake cookies “by ourselves,” my sister and I had dutifully measured and mixed all the dry ingredients in a bowl and were blending the others separately. We were so focused on the hand mixer, we didn’t realize that the light metal bowl of flour mixture had worked its way to the edge of the counter until a white, powdery explosion flew up from the floor. Mom just laughed, said, “It happens,” and taught us how to clean it up. Eventually she explained to me that she could do that because she was picky about when we got to help her in the kitchen: she chose days when it didn’t matter if dinner was a little late and an extra mess was OK. These boundaries made cooking a more enjoyable experience for everyone. Learn what you and your kids need to be successful, and stick to that. Find a recipe that you can cook together on a quiet weekend, or plan to have them help for one part of a recipe this week. Cook with your kids when you know that if something goes wrong, you’ll have the margin to laugh as you teach them how to fix it.
Want to practice cooking with your kids in a kitchen that you don’t have to clean? We’d love for you and your child to join us for our Kids Sushi class. You’ll learn some fun, family-friendly sushi recipes that you can practice making together. Certain classes like this one include free tuition for a child between the ages of 8 and 15. Call 405.377.3333 with questions or register here. To find out about more courses like this sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. View all of our upcoming courses in our digital catalog.
Abby McCain is the Communications and Marketing Secretary at Meridian Technology Center.