Getting your kids excited in the kitchen may seem as challenging as getting them to smile while doing chores or homework. They instinctively know a lot of hard work goes on in there! Other than the occasional cookie grab, they may have little to no interest in spending time in the kitchen.
After some steps to motivate and excite them, my boys truly enjoyed working with my husband and I in the kitchen. For those parents out there looking for some kitchen bonding time, I suggest some of the following tips that helped me.
Do the preparation together.
Select the meal together! Ask your child what their favorite dishes are and what they may be interested in making. Another fun way to identify new recipes is through letting the kids look through cookbooks or magazines. The more control they feel they have, the more invested they will be!
Next, make an ingredient list together and let’s go shopping! Our local grocery store has kid sized shopping carts, so I usually turn the list over and let them take control of the shopping. The independence feels great to them plus they’re building important life skills early on. I always let them pick out a special treat to reward a job well done (last week it was frozen mochi).
Give them jobs they can do independently.
Giving your child a chance to do tasks in the recipe individually will give them a sense of accomplishment and boost their self-esteem – knowing what they did contributed to the final product! This could include washing, stirring or measuring ingredients.
A great tool we picked up from our preschool is this dog knife by Kuhn Rikon. It’s sharp enough to cut soft foods but not fingers, and my kids love using this knife!
I also stock up on small sized prep tools such as whisks and prep bowls. They love playing with new tools and small sized tools make it especially easy for their small hands.
Make it fun!
Another way to enhance the kitchen fun is by making it into a game that everyone can be a part of! Have a cook-off—such as parents vs. kids or dad and kid vs. mom and kid—with themes like best homemade snack, best homemade pizza and more!
If you’re making pizza, make sure you have plenty of healthy toppings for their masterpiece: it’s a great way to experiment with different in-season vegetables rather than just the standard pepperoni & cheese. We’ve tried fennel, broccolini, goat cheese—whatever we happen to find at the local farmer’s market that week.
How do you get your kids excited about spending time with you in the kitchen?