Kids in the Kitchen
It is important to encourage kids in the kitchen. This can help ensure that they will grow up as capable adults understanding the importance of nutrition and knowing how to prepare quick healthy meals.
My son now lives in Melbourne in a house with other young people. I know that I sent him on his way with some good cooking skills and knowledge of the importance of balanced meals. There were moments when I wondered why he was asking such basic culinary questions. They werenít basic to him and they showed that he was thinking! Patience on my part has meant that he is now a very capable cook. In todayís world, it is really useful to know how to cook.
It is not just a motherís job since so many women are now working. The child that can start something for dinner or help with preparation will be learning to be self sufficient as well as being an asset to a busy household.These days, households are busy!
Start children off in the kitchen as young as possible. They can be part of the kitchen from the time they can sit up. To begin, they love to play with measuring cups and spoons. They are still learning about equipment.
Teach basic kitchen rules and skills and always set a good example.
- Wear an apron or a cover-up.
- Wash hands before beginning
- Wash all vegetables and fruit (that are going to be used)
- Donít lick your fingers as you go
- Clean up and wash the utensils that have been used.
- Spreading a piece of bread and making a sandwich with cheese slices, vegemite or peanut paste.
- Allow them to peel a banana once it is started.
- Peel a mandarin and then allow them to break it into segments.
- Prepare some salad ingredients and then have them arrange it on the plate.
- Allow them to pour cereal in to a dish. They could add milk from a small jug. This is the beginning of being able to make breakfast. Yes, there will be some mess in the beginning but they will learn!
- As they get ready for pre-primary or school, they can choose and help pack a lunch, getting out a package of sultanas, choosing fruit and washing it ready to eat.
Make sure that they wonít burn or cut themselves. As children get older, teach them some basic skills that will allow them to help you in the kitchen.
- Teach children how to use a vegetable peeler and a paring knife.
- Show them how to set the oven and to always remove food using an oven mitt.
- Teach them about the microwave and to be careful with steam from vegetables.
Easy vegetables to learn how to prepare and cook.
Practise with a peeler on a carrot. This is an easy shape to begin with. After the age of 6 they can be taught to use a paring knife with care. Start with soft vegetables that are easier to slice. Zucchini is soft and can be cut in rounds; next cut beans.
The first recipe a child prepares for him or her self or the whole family.
Start with recipes that they like to eat.
Use pita bread, or half an English muffin. Gather possible ingredients and help prepare. Place them in little bowls ready to use. Let the children decide what to put on them. Choose from sliced zucchini, sliced mushrooms, grated cheese, chopped lean meat or left over chicken, tinned tuna, sliced capsicum, chopped spring onion, chopped pineapple or sun dried tomatoes. Spread a base of tomato paste or tomato sauce and then pile the fillings on top. Pop in the oven until cooked.
All children love popcorn.
Do this in the microwave, as it is safer than on top of the stove. Put 1/4 cup of corn in the bottom of a Pyrex casserole. Cover with lid and microwave on high for about 5 minutes or until most of the corn has popped. Remove and leave covered for 2 to 3 minutes and then add chopped dried fruit to increase the nutrition and flavour.
Learning to make soup.
Again, let them help to choose the vegetables that can go into the soup. They can be brought from the cupboard and refrigerator and then they can choose the ones to use. Children will see that a soup can give an endless array of flavours and variation. They will learn adaptability and how to use what is on hand. You might go to the garden together to choose herbs that will complement the dish. It is hard to make a bad soup.
Encouraging children to cook
Buying your children cook books for birthdays and Christmas is a great way to get them interested in cooking. make sure they contain simple recipes, and ones that children would enjoy. Try your local bookstore or supermarket.: