Yes, it’s true! Sometimes cooking with our kids can require time, patience, and some extra clean up effort. But experts agree that the extra effort is well worth it. The benefits are countless.
Recently I was reminded how fun cooking can be when my kids and I attended a photo shoot for Cuisinart. The shoot was focused on the amazing Griddler! After the shoot, we were fortunate enough to keep the Panini maker and had so much fun coming up with creative delicious panini recipes. One more memorable than the other – the kids even got a little competitive. As we sat around the table that night, we came up with a list of amazing benefits derived from a day in the kitchen as a family.
Family Bonding Opportunity
All children love attention and cooking together requires a little extra attention to detail and a great way to spend time together. Kids of all ages can help. It can start with choosing the recipe. Your 2-3-year-old can help rinse vegetables, stir, add ingredients and more. 4-6-year-olds can help crack eggs, set the table, mix and count and measure. And then your older children can start to read and follow recipes, create shopping lists, find and gather ingredients and (best of all) help with clean up! As you prepare your meal, use this time to talk to your children. Share stories, jokes, solve problems, create teachable moments and more. Best of all your kids will feel a sense of accomplishment and be contributing to the family as you sit down to enjoy your meal. Encourage them to set the table ( Table-Setting-Line-Up.pdf) and have the goal be teaching them to appreciate family meals just a little bit more!
Who says you can’t learn important math and science skills while cooking? Cooking promotes a wonderful opportunity to encourage counting, measuring and using basic math skills. How many tablespoons in a cup? How many cups in a pint? It also allows for scientific observation when the food changes form. How does the liquid form to a cake? What causes the bread to rise? And why not take the time to discuss the senses (taste, sight, smell, and touch). Science and math skills with lots of creativity!
Life Skills Lessons
Cooking together is also an excuse to teach and reinforce all sorts of life lessons. Lessons that will hopefully become a gift that keeps on giving. A few that come to mind immediately:
- Healthy Eating– First of all, you can discuss the benefits of eating healthy and food safety. Why do certain foods create a healthy body? What foods are healthy vs. unhealthy?
- How to Follow Directions? Teach your child how to read a recipe and following directions. A great way to educate your child on following a game plan. Pose questions as you follow the recipe, “What would happen if you forget the baking soda?”
- Solve Problems – What if you run out of an ingredient or need to add a substitute ingredient. This is a great way to show that there’s always a solution in every situation.
- Creativity –What happens if we add a little extra chocolate chip? Here’s a chance to encourage creativity through food.
- Cultural Awareness – Show your children different foods from around the world. Explain how different countries have different customs. Here’s a great way to promote the importance of inclusion and acceptance.
Where do you start?
Breakfast is the easiest meal to begin. Not only is it scientifically proven to be one of the most important meals of the day but chances are you can make something that will please all members of the family – pancakes, waffles, fruit salad, a signature granola mix, French toast, omelette station and more. So this weekend wake up, turn off the electronics and plan a wonderful breakfast cooked together as a family!
Cooking with Kids Great Resources
A few great websites for family dinner ideas and kids cooking subscription services – all to encourage cooking as a family in your house:
What are some of your favorite recipes to cook with your children? Please share with us!
Photo credit: Family photos courtesy of Cuisinart.