We know that kids who cook meals eat healthier.
There is something about getting involved in the kitchen that seems to get kids interested in what they are actually eating.
And, when kids are aware of what they are eating, they want to learn more, and more, and more.
Involving your kids in the kitchen can start at any age and learning level.
Let’s take a look at a few ways kids can dig in and enjoy the cooking process by making simple soups.
Even toddlers can help clean vegetables and fruit. Get out a bucket or tub and set it on a towel on the floor, then put a couple inches of fresh water in it.
Trim the produce as needed then put them in the bucket. Give your toddler a clean brush, sponge, or cloth and watch the action!
This is good fun for your youngster and gets the carrots clean in the process. Toddlers are at the age where they should be able to pick the produce out of the bucket and put them into another.
Anything that needs to be washed can go into the bucket with the clean water. Don’t be surprised if a few carrots get nibbled on in the process, but that’s half the fun and a big part of learning.
At the next level, you can start having your child measure ingredients. Start with the simplest measurements, such as one cup of berries. You can dice the vegetables for the soup and throw them into a bowl, then ask your child to use a measuring cup to fill the pot and tell you how many cups they put in.
It’s all about learning some basics and staying involved in the cooking process. Accuracy isn’t as important as involvement at this point, so relax and enjoy.
At what age a child can handle a knife depends on the child. Many older children can handle a small knife properly, but it takes practice and patience. In order to learn this skill, parents often buy a knife ‘glove’ to help protect their child from accidental cuts. This is a good idea, but the parent still has to teach the skill, then observe closely.
You don’t want the glove to give your child a false sense of security, or cockiness. Spend a good amount of time with your older child teaching him or her how to properly use a knife.
You want your older child to have a healthy respect for the knife, but not be scared of it, either. Chopping vegetables for a harvest soup will give your child plenty of opportunity to learn this valuable skill.
Stirring the Pot
Once the soup is on the stove, your older child can certainly help stir and watch the pot. This level will help your child learn about what boiling and simmering looks like and how they differ.
You can even help your older child understand how vegetables cook at different rates by adding the denser produce first, then adding more delicate vegetables to the pot, and so on.
As your child stirs the pot after each addition, he or she will see how timing a recipe is as important as what ingredients are in the soup.
Young children can help serve by putting the crackers or bread on the table, while older children can handle the utensils and actually ladling the soup into the bowls.
Again, the age will dictate which tasks go to which child, but no matter what age, each child can have a duty to perform.
Putting the leftovers away and clearing the table are tasks that older children can help with. However, even the youngest child can help by getting out the plastic food containers.
Store them all in one easy to reach drawer or box and let your toddler dig in and hand you what you need. Take whatever they give you and, if you need more, ask your older child to help. This way, everyone gets involved and you have a free hand to finish what needs to be done.
Making a big pot of harvest soup together is the perfect way to learn lots of kitchen skills. From washing and chopping the vegetables, to measuring ingredients and stirring the pot, there are any number of tasks that you can assign to your children.
You’re not asking your kids to prepare the soup so you can bow out; you are asking your kids to join you in the kitchen and learn skills that will last a lifetime.
But, most importantly, you are asking your kids to have fun with you as you cook together. Now, that’s what makes everything worthwhile!
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