Getting Kids Into the Kitchen
Small children love to snip herbs,
and scissors are safer.
In talking with families coast to coast, we've heard over and over again that when kids help make the food, they also eat it. Not always but most of the time.
Here's how you can get your kids into the kitchen:
- Let the young ones have some simple tasks, things like tearing lettuce, measuring water, and stirring the batter. Let them stand on a step-stool and rinse vegetables, or roll the meat into meatballs.
- Call out the items you'll need to cook with and have your kids gather them for you. Or if it's a written recipe, share the ingredient list with your kids that are old enough to read and let them set them out.
- Older kids make great prep-chefs: they can chop, dice, peel, open cans and even operate a food processor or mini-chopper (give them safety training, first!).
- Are you making something that requires frequent stirring, like polenta? Young chefs can take turns being "on duty" while you attend to other chores.
- Setting the table and clearing the table: these are daily tasks that everyone should participate in at different times. Setting the table also teaches kids the proper placement of knives, forks and spoons, and other etiquette.
- Certain utensils are great for younger kids that aren't quite old enough to handle a knife. Vegetable peelers (especially the harp shaped ones), cheese graters and melon ballers are some examples. Tip: Use a melon baller to remove the pithy membrane from the inside of a bell pepper.
- Plastic blunt-tipped scissors, the kinds used in pre-school, also have their place in the kitchen for snipping herbs and cutting slices of cheese into smaller bits.
When kids can see and taste meals they have helped make, they get much more satisfaction from them. They may not always like the foods better, but parent after parent has told us that in most cases, the kids enthusiastically eat their dinners and even explore a wider range of foods than they might not try otherwise. All it takes is a little extra time and support from you, and soon your kids will be cutting up in the kitchen—right next to you and your mate. It's fun, it's worthwhile and everyone has something to gain.
This is an edited and updated archive of pages originally published in 1997.
Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.
Modified August 2007