Encouraging your children to practice cooking at an early age can help them become responsible eaters and independent individuals because they know what happens from purchasing to preparation and serving.
After all, it’s a basic survival skill that they will have to learn sooner or later. What can you do as a parent to teach your kids to love cooking? Here are some tips.
Cooking Activities by Age
Some psychologists recommend that you should expose your kids to certain preparation techniques appropriate for their skills to avoid accidents in the kitchen. For example, at age 3 or below, you can start by letting the child wash vegetables, stir room-temperature ingredients, place ingredients on scales, or mash ingredients with a fork.
By 5 years, the child should be able to knead, sieve, weigh, wash fruits and vegetables, roll the dough, hand-mix, and use the mortar and pestle. At age 7, your child can be taught to handle small knives and scissors and set the table. Eleven-year-old should be able to identify most ingredients, make simple salads, open cans or use peelers, and operate the oven and microwave.
Assign Chores in the Kitchen
To avoid accidents, your child should be assigned to help in smaller and easier tasks that don’t involve carrying or touching sharp, pointed, and breakable objects. Toddlers should be encouraged to watch you prepare while older kids younger than 12 should be able to identify the various fruits, vegetables, and meat.
Do not be afraid to relinquish control or worry that your child will get dirty. As long as they are not playing with open fire and are safe from dangerous objects and substances, let them help if they want.
Master Simple Recipes and Learn Responsibility
Snacks, simple breakfast, smoothies, and salads are the easiest recipes kids can learn on their own. It could be as simple as scooping and spreading ready-made ingredients on bread, peel fruits, and make toast.
Not only will you encourage them to love cooking, but they will also become aware of the effort it takes to prepare food. Next time that they go to a restaurant or a street food stall, they will have more respect towards people in the food business and will hesitate to waste leftover food.
Some kids will ask that they be allowed to cook on the stove, but if you think they are not yet ready to handle open fire, you can let them watch you cook instead. That would be the perfect time to teach them about safety and responsibility. Point out which items they are allowed to use and why they are not yet allowed to handle knives.
Explain that they will one day be able to cook for themselves once they have mastered the basic preparation techniques. These include washing hands before handling food, keeping the kitchen and utensils clean, which food must be refrigerated, how to determine which are raw or ready-to-eat, and when to taste food.