My mother let me help her in the kitchen before I can even remember. I was allowed to mix batters, grind nuts and toss the salad. My favorite job? Stirring the Jello and tasting it to be sure it was “ready” to go in the refrigerator. It is never too early to bring your child in to the kitchen. Teaching your children to cook will help them throughout their lives and will also teach them how to prepare delicious yet healthy meals.
You can begin cooking with your children by having your toddler in the kitchen while you prepare your family’s dinner. Place a few pots and pans on the floor and let your child bang on them with a spoon. This will make the kitchen a fun place to be, even when Mom is busy at the counter.
As your child grows you can allow him or her to stir something that will be included at dinner. For instance, place a non-breakable bowl on the table and set a few child-safe salad items next to it along with a spoon. Ask your child to mix the ingredients in the bowl.
Of course at this age the food will probably land on the floor and be put back in the bowl. Have some “clean” food set aside to sneak in to the meal. But allowing your child to experiment with mixing and stirring will teach him or her about food as well as improve hand/eye coordination.
When your child is older you can have him or her plan dinners for the week. For each night, ask which vegetable will be served, what would be a good healthy starch and what would be a main course that the whole family might enjoy. Then bring your child shopping, talking about different herbs, spices, produce and meats.
Now for the fun part – the kitchen! Have your child help with the meal preparation. Choose age appropriate tasks, from pouring pre-mixed ingredients to chopping and slicing. Pretty soon your child can be in charge of an entire meal!