My four kids love to help in the kitchen, but it wasn’t always that way. Family celebrations and traditional recipes are the best way to introduce your kids to cooking with love. The experience will make the holiday more memorable for everyone and creates a deep and lasting love of good food in their hearts.
To make cooking with your kids a help and not a hindrance, pick jobs that are age appropriate. Let children five and over peel, chop, snap beans and grate vegetables. Let younger children add in pre-measured seasonings and turn on the mixer. For my very young children, they stand by me and put each ingredient into the bowl. The more they feel a part of the cooking process, the more engaged they will be at the meal itself.
When I invite my kids into the kitchen while I am cooking for a special event, I use a few simple tips to help everything go smoothly. I often have the older kids read the recipe out loud multiple times and measure out the ingredients into small plastic bowls for the younger ones to pour into the mixing bowl. This creates cooperation and makes everyone feel included.
Another practical tip from my experience is to let the kids focus on the side dishes and dessert. Avoid raw meat and turkey when cooking with your kids. This will prevent cross contamination and give the kids ownership of the show-stopping pumpkin pie and their favorite whole wheat cornbread or sweet potatoes. I often let the kids play with pie crust to create cookie cutter creations to decorate the pumpkin pie. It saves me time and really makes them feel like they made the holiday more special.
Encourage them to taste everything with clean hands or a fresh spoon; this is the secret to becoming a great cook and to develop a love of nutritious food. Your kids may not eat the salad or side dish, but they may have tasted the individual ingredients while chopping them up. Choose traditional family favorites that have a story. Share how you felt when your grandmother or father made that dish. I still remember preparing Thanksgiving with my father when I was a little girl and it has always been one of my favorite holidays. You can get your kids cooking at any age and make some memories you will always be thankful for this year.