Teaching your child to cook is a fundamental parenting skill that we may feel that we never have time to do. We might have idealistic ideas of leisurely afternoons in the kitchen with smiling children, but often the reality is sending them to screens so you can just get on with it. Whatever your reasons are, cooking is one of the vital life skills for teenagers and an excellent way to teach children to be creative. It also gives children the joy and satisfaction of independence. As one of many children who used to cook for myself in the evening, I can assure you that they are capable of far more than you think. Also, the pride as a seven-year-old presents beans on toast to their family is heartwarming. Whether you are a keen cook yourself or not, you can not avoid the fact that your child will leave home. You have a duty to them to make sure that they can approach recipes so that they can prepare economical and healthy food. It is one of the key skills that your child needs to leave home with. The key is to start with something easy. Toast can be a great success if you have not done anything before. If your child wants to make cakes, make cakes, perhaps brownies from a pack. Success will always make doing it again an attractive option. And don’t get too hung up about the mess!
Firstly let’s review why it’s important to introduce children to the kitchen.
5 Reasons Why Children Should Learn How To Cook
- Creativity. It’s no news that children are curious beings. That’s why cooking is perfect for them; not only will they try to get recipes right, but they will also try to create new things. So they get to explore their choices of ingredients and create something phenomenal. Failure and success are so important to building resilience and confidence.
- It builds confidence. Your child learning to cook and getting it right is not an easy job; that’s why when they start getting better, you see a whole new spark in them. When children build their cooking skills, they become more confident among their peers and excited to learn new recipes – you can finally pass down grandma’s recipes.
- It gives them a sense of responsibility. If you give your child ownership of cooking something you have successfully started making your child independent. This new development does not only influence the child in the kitchen; it also affects the child’s activities at school, in emergencies, and among their peers. It means that if you are late home or busy one evening you can be assured that they will be able to eat something! In a meal that they are in control of they will also be far more interested in table manners.
- Healthy choices. Introducing the child to the kitchen will also help them go easy on junk food, pay attention to what they make, and eat. It also enables them to be good at food planning. Seeing how much butter goes into a cake from scratch will help them keep a healthy relationship with food rather than making them fear food.
- It improves their calculative skills. Cooking is all about the appropriate measurement of ingredients at the proper time with the right equipment. This process also influences the child’s ability to make specific calculations even outside the kitchen.
Here’s a bonus: Teaching your child to cook can boost an excellent child-parent relationship because you’ll have many things/recipes to talk about together. It is a great way to spend quality time with your children.
Basic Cooking Skills You Can Teach Your Children.
Before introducing your child to the burner, your child must understand the fundamentals of a good meal, the basic skills necessary for cooking a good meal, and even the right way to present it.
A good plate contains the necessary nutrients our body needs for proper functioning. These nutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals. This fundamental knowledge is essential for good food planning skills and, over time, builds good life skills for teenagers.
Teaching your child to cook is a step-by-step process, and the most crucial step is asking the child to help out. It is the perfect time to introduce the basic cooking skills they will need over time. These skills include:
- Basic knife skills. Teaching your child how to cook is a perfect time to teach them to use a sharp knife carefully and efficiently. You may have to get them a safer, smaller version for younger children. Start by showing them how to use the knife on different ingredients before trying. When using a knife, you have to guide them throughout the entire process on the first few trials. There are some excellent videos on YouTube if you are not too confident yourself. Over time, you have to start keeping your distance to watch them get it right on their own. It is also essential to let children handle different vegetables and ingredient, and of course, chopping patterns varies with the type of ingredient. This video can help you teach your child how to hold and use a knife.
- Identifying various ingredients and spices. Also, realize what real food looks and feels like. Potatoes have mud and need peeling, portions of vegetables are easy if you add frozen peas to everything. Beyond this, there are different vegetables and spices to learn about, and you can start with ingredients and herbs from their favorite dish. You also want to tell and show them when and how to use different ingredients for different recipes.
- Reading and understanding a recipe. This entails explaining specific kitchen terms such as poaching, scrambling, frying, steaming, and many others and the science behind them. It enables the child to understand any recipe, especially when trying out a new one. Another essential skill for reading a recipe is to advise the child to always read a recipe entirely before making the dish.
- Preparing a grocery list. Here’s another fun fundamental skill. It enables the child to work with a budget and plan their grocery shopping according to the ingredients to make the dish. Start by writing your lists according to your recipes and then allowing the child to give it a try. It is an important life skill that every teenager should know, and it could make a good impact on their financial life later on. Let your child go to the shop and buy the ingredients so they feel real ownership of all aspects.
- Getting accustomed to the right measuring equipment. This is also fundamental to understanding a recipe. These include the use of measuring cups and spoons. Don’t forget to show them how to use it properly. This also means that they understand portion sizes. This will mean that they are in control of their portion sizes. We have an important article here on overeating.
- Safety measures to take when using electrical appliances. For young children, you will have to help them with these appliances. However, you can show teenagers how to and watch as they try.
A Simple Cooking Secret. Do you know that teaching your children to prepare before cooking allows them to cook faster without forgetting an ingredient or being tense? Even for adults and chefs, it’s not fun preparing an ingredient or vegetable that needs to get in the pot while trying not to overcook or undercook the others. Children need to understand this too. So the little moments of stress and the need to adapt can really help children become more independent and resilient.
Dos And Don’ts To Consider When Teaching Your Child How To Cook
- Always commend their efforts, and avoid making them feel bad about a mistake as this might affect their confidence or cause them to lose interest.
- Know when to help out and when to avoid meddling in the child’s progress. As much as you want to help, avoid interrupting the child because this can slow the child down or even confuse them.
- Make learning fun. If you want to make cooking fun for kids, YouTube has some things you can try.
- Once in a while, give a reward as an encouragement to them.
- Avoid asking them to help out as a punishment or as a disciplinary action.
- Avoid leaving young children in the kitchen alone.
- Avoid making cooking a long boring lecture
- Avoid bickering about their mistakes.
Helpful Things To Take Note Of
Here are a few things to note before you begin to avoid ruining the experience for your child:
- At first, it will be messy. Don’t expect it to be perfect, especially when teaching a child or teen for the first time.
- Be patient, and this is quite important. Calm your nerves and observe the child. That way, instead of seeing a reason to yell, you see an opportunity to help.
- It will be time taking and a little exhausting. But come on, it’s your child we are talking about here. Make it count.
Final Thoughts On Teaching Your Child To Cook
Start simple. Toast and breakfast cereal with a pool of milk and a knife with butter left out is a success. Praise it. Then from there small steps, enjoy watching cookery shows. Rather than big cookery projects have them involved in regular things. Finished your homework? Come and put the veg on. If their favorite food is Mac and Cheese, let them cook that and have a discussion about how to add some veg.