I’m so excited about this new series all about getting kids in the kitchen! It’s something that’s been important to me ever since I witnessed young people moving away from home and NOT being able to make basic foods for themselves.
Part-One of this new series is brought to you by a brand we use often and love in our home, Rice-A-Roni. It’s been a staple on our table for many meals and one the kids can make, too! All opinions are my own.
I want to EMPOWER our young people to be confident as kids in the kitchen – which in turn, translates to confident adults in the kitchen.
When you feel confident in areas of your life at home, it helps with confidence outside of the home as well. That is why our approach to cooking in the kitchen with kids, as well as household chores (which we call family contributions) is all about raising confident kids.
One simple example of this is the fact that my oldest is going to a month-long, intensive training camp this summer. One of the things all of the recruits at camp will have to do is their own laundry, supervised, of course.
They sent out instructions that all youth should learn some basic laundering skills before camp so that they’re prepared for their time away. Thankfully, Aliyah is already fully confident in this area and won’t have to worry about learning something new or wondering what to do when there is already so much else she’ll be learning and working on – her own laundry (or the ability to do it) is already second nature.
So, with that said, let’s get back to getting our kids involved in the kitchen.
Children who help cook at home are more likely to enjoy fruits and veggies than kids who don’t cook, according to a new study.Science Daily
Today I’m sharing five essential tips for cooking with kids in the kitchen! Keep reading!
In this series, we’ll also uncover some favorite products of ours to use, how to set up a safe kitchen, and more.
Keep It Small
Don’t be afraid to start small, I mean, really small. Yes, both in kids and in delegations. The younger your kiddos are, the more eager they are to learn and to help. Then as they learn, grow, and build more confidence, they’ll want to continue in the kitchen.
As far as delegating jobs in the kitchen, nothing is too small. Young ones can help pour an ingredient into a bowl (with supervision and help, of course), and sometimes that is enough! My littlest daughter usually doesn’t last through prepping a whole meal and just pops in and out for simple jobs, but she gets really excited about those jobs!
Keeping food and ingredients stocked in the pantry that are kid and family-friendly is a big plus. And I don’t mean to limit what kids eat or experience.
What I mean is keeping ingredients on hand for meals that the whole family loves. Find side dishes or items that the kids can even make themselves, under supervision.
A great way to do this is with a side dish we make often because it pairs so well with almost EVERY meal, Rice-a-Roni. And we’re huge fans of Rice-a-Roni’s newest products, their new microwavable Heat & Eat Rice! New Rice-A-Roni Heat & Eat are convenient and flavorful rices that take some of the “prep” out of meal prep when you’re in a pinch. But they’re also simple enough that even the kids can help you with pulling lunch or dinner together. They cook directly in their microwaveable pouch and are ready in 90 seconds!
Note: make sure your kiddos are handling pouches with caution when they remove them from the microwave.
Rice-A-Roni Heat & Eat Rice comes in three delicious flavors: Herb & Butter Rice, Spicy Spanish Rice and Garlic & Olive Oil Rice. Don’t let the convenience fool you – these rice varieties have a ton of delicious flavor that will compliment any meal.
Make It Welcoming
For kids to learn well, feel empowered and grow in their kitchen skills, they need the kitchen to be a welcoming, safe space for them. And yes, it does need to be safe, physically, but we’ll get to kitchen safety for kids in another post.
Here, I’m talking about creating a welcoming environment.
I can tell the days that I am in a rush or feeling flustered by a timeline, and those are not the times to try and teach my kids in the kitchen. Ultimately, my rushed feelings will lead to feeling frustrated with questions, a slower pace or spills – all things that are a part of kids learning in the kitchen – which are all a natural part of learning.
Yes, I’ve lost my patience in the kitchen, and then there are also days that I’ve HAD the time, and faked the patience until a better attitude emerged (in myself), and loads of patience are what help kids learn and find their confidence.
Think In Stages
With a whole brood of kids in our home, it’s not easy for us ALL to be in the kitchen at the same time. But I do like to get them all involved often, sometimes just in different stages. These stages usually depend of the stage of life they’re in as well.
For example, my just-turned-five-year-old doesn’t last for a whole meal prep session typically, but she’s great at washing the fruits and vegetables, prepping pans, pouring ingredients, and simple tasks like this.
For my oldest son, I can usually give him a task, and he may interject with a question here and there, but it’s not as hands-on for me. This is where having items like Rice-a-Roni Heat & Eat are a great help! My older kids are able to read instructions, follow them and get it ready to serve. But I’m still watching them the whole way through, of course.
So, I can bring in different kids at different stages of a meal to help in different ways. Thinking in stages this way has been helpful.
Encourage Creativity and Play!
Getting comfortable in the kitchen sometimes goes beyond the actual meal prep. There aren’t always times that we need much help, but constantly saying “no” isn’t fun or empowering for our little learners.
These are times I lean into the creativity and play – and it’s also when an even bigger dose of patience is needed as well. Some examples of this might be:
- Find extra items that need to be washed (which usually leads to water being splashed and someone having to wipe it up, but hey, clean counters and floor!).
- Did you have to peel carrots or potatoes? Let a little one play with a bowl of peels.
- Ask this or that questions along the way, i.e., “Should we season with garlic or onion?” “Should we add celery or broccoli?” “Which Rice-a-Roni flavor would best suit this meal?”
- Set up a bowl of dry oats and have young ones practice scooping and measuring.
- Have someone sort or count, whether it’s vegetables, rolls, etc.
- This is a great time to have kids practice setting the table. Encourage creativity here! Maybe they’d like to make place cards and assign everyone a seat, maybe they want to fold the napkins in a unique way or add frozen fruit to cups instead of ice for a fun twist.
- Start on kitchen clean-up. If there are dirty utensils or bowls, have kids help wash them, if there is a counter not being used, it’s time to clean it up.
The biggest tip of all for getting kids in the kitchen is a big heaping of patience (I know we already mentioned it a couple of times) and lots of encouragement. Spills are going to happen. Things will get broken. Messes will be made. Hopefully, no harmful accidents will happen – we WILL get into a post all about safety in the kitchen soon – but, even when accidents happen, patience is still needed.
Kids are already hard enough on themselves, let’s help give them a boost of confidence by empowering our kids in the kitchen!