Have you tried to interest your child in cooking or baking, only to find their focus remains solely on eating? While that’s perfectly understandable, it’s still good to make sure they know their way around the kitchen.
Here’s how to unleash your child’s inner chef.
Take the Kitchen Outside!
Since it’s all about the food for your littles, why not build a kids’ outdoor kitchen? There’s nothing better than pretend play in fresh air, and it’s good to create happy experiences in the “kitchen.”
So, gather some pots, bowls, spoons, a cookie sheet, or other kitchen tools and head out to a spot that has open dirt and natural goodies like berries, flowers, sticks, and leaves. Bring a gallon or so of water with you too If the ground is dry.
Then, kind of let the activity unfurl. Tell the kids something like, “I was thinking we could cook up some nature food out here. What can we make? Should we leave something for the fairies?”
Next, collect “ingredients” and any other tools you may need. Take a pail to gather the sticks, tree fruits, flowers, or other items to “cook.” To work in sensory exercises, have the kids find objects with a variety of colors, weights, smells, or sizes.
Engage Their Imaginations
Instead of just letting the kids commence to mixing and pouring, try to get them interested in creation of a more structured kitchen space. For instance, you can drape a tarp or bedsheet over a rope strung between two trees. While you’re doing this, the kids can turn a tree stump, say, into a “stove,” or the hollow of an old tree into an “oven.”
Foster improvisation and invention by making pronouncements such as, “I forgot the spoon! What can we use for stirring?” Or you can see what would work as a “knife.” Then you can play sous chef or occasionally ask the kids what they’re cooking.
An outdoor kitchen is the kids’ domain. They can feel free to make a mess while being creative and soaking up good “vibes” about being in a kitchen!
Other Ways to Involve Kids With Cooking
Kids can generally do more in the kitchen than we think. For example, baking cookies is great, but if we really want to woo our kids’ culinary muse, we should expand their repertoire with some of their other favorites — maybe nachos with homemade cheese sauce, burgers, or sweet potato fries. Demonstrate how easy it is to make virtually any food they enjoy.
Also, resist the urge to invite your children to help with meal prep, then promptly take charge. Give the kids more responsibility. Let them do some of the actual work, including reading the recipe, if they’re able. If they feel empowered in the kitchen, they’ll begin to see themselves cooking independently.
Keep it Relaxed and Positive
Avoid cooking with the kids when you’re anxious or stressed out.
You may inadvertently send a message that cooking is stressful or that their help isn’t needed.
Another thing to remember is to say as little as possible in the kitchen, and let kids figure stuff out for themselves. When you do say something, try to make your comments as positive and encouraging as possible so that your children don’t associate the kitchen with another criticism zone.
Start them out young in the kitchen. Hand babies and toddlers measuring cups and wooden spoons to play with. When the kids are a bit older, you can provide them with their own special tools. You can also decorate plain aprons as a weekend art project. Once you unleash your child’s inner chef, you may be surprised by the fun you have bonding and creating together!