Cooking With the Kids!
Parents wear a lot of hats, chauffeur, short-order cook, coach, and, for many now, full-time teachers. Why not combine some of these duties and teach your kids to cook? So your youngster already makes mean peanut butter and olive sandwich, let’s talk real food, like something you or the whole family would eat. And besides learning survival skills for college and beyond, cooking combines math and reading skills, making this a triple threat. Ready? Let’s cook.
First thing is to find something your kid likes to eat, because, really, what’s the point if he isn’t going to consume what he makes. Next, decide how involved the little ones are going to get, and that really depends on how old they are and how interested in helping they are. Let’s say you have an enthusiastic 3-year-old. Start with cookies or cupcakes, because unless they’re not allowed, every 3-year-old in the world is going to eat a cookie and a cupcake. Get a mix, let them dump the ingredients in the bowl, break the eggs, and stir. My boys loved scooping dough out onto cookie sheets. Anything that turns out awkward or odd-looking, we called an “Elvis Cookie,” because it was special, just like my favorite singer.
3 Words. Sweets, Sweets, & Sweets
Cupcakes are even more fun, especially the frosting. Cookies and cupcakes also work for first-time 7-year-old cooks, 10-year-olds, and even 15-year-olds. Breakfast foods are particularly good and most parents have a little more time on weekend mornings to oversee. Start with toast, then move into scrambled eggs, pancakes, waffles, and pancakes. Biscuits from a can are easy, but homemade biscuits make the whole house happy.
As the kids get older and more used to the kitchen, they can get more involved. We moved into microwave meals by the time the boys were 7 to 10 years old, then oversaw when they actually turned on the stove and the oven. Cooking with the kids has a lot of benefits!
Measurements are key
Reading recipes and measuring ingredients are actually good for kids’ reading and math skills. If youngsters learn how many ounces are in a cup, pint, quart, and gallon, they’ll be ahead of most adults (and useful on trivia night). Check out this fun website, https://www.mathsisfun.com/measure/us-standard-volume.html, for tips.
Things to remember
And the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon is important to anyone who has ever put in a tablespoon of salt when the recipe only called for a teaspoon. One of our favorite things even now is a super easy five-ingredient bread recipe from King Arthur flour that we learned to make in school, https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/the-easiest-loaf-of-bread-youll-ever-bake-recipe. Everyone in the house has used this simple recipe, adapting it to make pizza dough, calzones, and garlic knots. By the time a kid hits 12, he has defined tastes, and he should be able to make his own dinner, and dinner for the rest of the family if needed. He should know how to use a can opener and a whiz with a microwave.
He should be able to handle a regular kitchen knife, whip up a salad, soup, macaroni and cheese, a couple of side dishes (even if they are just out of a can), and the main course (hamburgers are always good).
Amanda Rogers is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, Texas
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