Learning how to cook is a skill, and there is no better time to start developing this skill than in childhood. Children who grow up feeling comfortable in the kitchen will be more likely to enjoy preparing their own meals as adults, and they may also be more adventurous in what they eat. Raising kids to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods also begins in the kitchen. An easy way to start getting kids interested in cooking is with baking. Here are a few tips on how to up your baking game with the kids.
Explain the Rules of the Kitchen
As children do more in the kitchen, be sure to explain safety rules. This includes how to safely use the oven and cooktop. It also includes knowing how to use a fire extinguisher in case something goes wrong. Children should be instructed to pull back long hair, roll up long sleeves, and wash their hands before they get started baking. They should know where the bowls, spoons, and ingredients are located. If you have two or more children who want to bake with you at the same time, come up with a plan of who will do what. Make sure that you will be available during the whole baking process. Avoid getting distracted by your phone or something else. Be sure to bring your patience with you. Baking with little ones can be exhausting, especially if they get bored partway through the process.
Let the Kids Choose the Recipes
Kids will be more interested in cooking if you let them choose the recipes. If they are not sure of where to start, you could offer two or three options, and let them pick one. For younger kids, simple recipes are best. Gelatin squares, sugar cookies, and cupcakes are a few good options. You could try a family favorite recipe, such as grandma’s peanut butter cookies or your mother-in-law’s biscuits. Kids will be more likely to stick with the project from start to finish if they are baking something they like to eat.
Build Age-Appropriate Skills
According to Storey, it is important to build age-appropriate skills with kids in the kitchen. A preschool child should be able to sprinkle sugar onto unbaked cookies, roll balls of dough or stir sugar into melted butter with a wooden spoon. Kids this age will have a lot of fun just dumping the ingredients into the mixing bowl. They are still developing dexterity, but they should be able to squeeze a bottle of orange blossom honey or push cookie cutters into dough. An elementary-age child should have the dexterity to crack an egg, evenly roll cookie dough with a rolling pin and accurately measure ingredients with measuring cups and spoons. A middle school child should be able to understand an entire recipe from start to finish and do almost all of it on their own. They might need a little guidance with unusual or antiquated abbreviations.
Allow Them to Make Some Mistakes
While it is wise to supervise youngsters in the kitchen, it is also important to allow kids to make some mistakes when baking. They will learn some important things this way. For example, if a recipe calls for mixing the brownie batter for 45 seconds and not over-mixing, but the kids mix it for three minutes, let them see what happens. Maybe they will not notice any difference, or maybe the brownies will be too dense. If a child cracks an egg, and some eggshell gets into the dough, let them figure out how to safely remove it. If they forgot to make sure they had enough of each ingredient, and they turn out to be short on something, encourage them to come up with their own solution. When kids are able to solve some of these minor problems in the kitchen, they will be well-equipped to solve other problems in their lives.
Coming together as a family and baking treats in the kitchen is a good experience for children and parents. This time will help you make lasting memories with your kids. The finished treats will be the literal icing on the cake when you complete a successful baking session with your children.