Monday, March 28, 2011

Cooking with Preschoolers: Simple Tips and Recipes!!

I'll be the first to admit, I'm just an average cook!  I do want my children to feel at home in the kitchen though, and I try to take time to teach them and include them in the cooking process!

Here are some simple tips for cooking with your preschoolers!

1)  Prepare to cook.

Before you begin, it doesn't hurt to remind your child of some basic safety tips.  Talk about staying away from the stove, handling silverware appropriately, staying away from knives, listening to mom, etc.

Before you make a recipe, make sure hands are washed (you may also want to pull back hair)!  Enlist your child's help in finding the necessary ingredients and supplies.  Also, consider buying a sturdy stepstool for the kitchen.  It's a wonderful way to involve your child (and somewhat safer than standing on a chair)! 

2)  Include them in age-appropriate tasks.

I know, I're thinking to yourself "But it's just easier to do it myself".  I'll admit, I've had that thought more than once -- but starting your little ones in the kitchen at an early age builds confidence...and skill!  It's an amazing opportunity for "hands-on" learning.

(Now, you're not just going to turn your child loose and see what happens -- well, you can, but I wouldn't recommend it!!) 

The very first thing to do is model.  For example, show your child how to wash a piece of fruit.  Then, train them.  Give them the fruit and help them.  After they've done it several times, you can step back and watch!

In general, I think children can do many more chores and activities in the kitchen then we think!  For example, when my daughters were two they began to help me unload the dishwasher and sort the utensils.  Again, it comes back to modeling and training (and supervising well)!

With help, two and three year olds can:
Wipe the table
Scrub fruits and vegetables
Stir dry mixtures
Stir wet mixtures
Dump ingredients in the bowl
Cut out biscuits and use cookie cutters
Fold napkins
Help set the table
Peel carrots
Unload the dishwasher
Put trash in the trash can

With help, four and five year olds can:
Do all of the above and...
Measure ingredients
Peel potatoes
Knead dough
Spread butter or peanut butter on bread
Pour liquid from a container with a lid (a small pitcher is a great training tool)
Scrape dishes and clear the table
Sweep the floor

Sort recyclables

Again, these tasks require help and supervision, but you will be amazed at what your child can do if given the opportunity!

3) Keep it fun!

Your attitude is key when cooking with your kids!  It's easy to lose your patience, because there will be messes.  It will take much longer than if you just did it yourself (make sure you allow more time than you think you'll need)!!  Give plenty of praise as they are learning and acquiring cooking skills!

I've found that a special apron is motivating and fun for my girls.  Also, we often turn on one of our classical (calm) music CDs just for "kitchen time"!  Step-by-step cookbooks for kids can be helpful, too!

Our favorite recipes

Stone Soup
Easy as Apple Pie Snack

Strawberry Shortcake
Ice Cream in a Can
Caterpillar Pizza
Snack Bag Butterflies
Crockpot Yogurt

It isn't hard to include your children in the kitchen, but it does require being intentional and making time for it. 

Besides, once they've become proficient in the kitchen, they'll soon be making you breakfast in bed...well, I can dream, can't I?!!

What are your tips for cooking?  Do you have any recipes we should try?!!



Blogger Jamie @ hands on : as we grow said...

I love letting Henry help me cook or do anything in the kitchen - and he loves it too! thanks for the great reminders and suggestions of what to let them do!

Jamie @ <a href=">hands on : as we grow</a>

March 28, 2011 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Jenae said...

I love your recipes! So fun!

March 28, 2011 at 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Deborah said...

Terrific tips to keep in mind!

March 28, 2011 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger ಪುಟ್ಟಿಯ ಅಮ್ಮ/Putti Amma said...

Great tips and recipes!! My 3yr daughter loves washing the veggies and fruits. Also helps with cookie cutter. Hvent involved her much in other should try.

Roopa @Puttiprapancha

March 28, 2011 at 6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

some of your recipes did not link up correctly. can you let me where I can find them. they sound so neat and would love to try them with my boys!

March 28, 2011 at 6:44 PM  
Blogger Stacie said...

Thanks so much for letting me know!! I think all the links are fixed now!!

March 28, 2011 at 7:23 PM  
Blogger Darcey said...

Great post. I like the simple recipes and helpful tips. I've linked up to your post on my weekly favorites here:

April 3, 2011 at 9:35 AM  

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