It’s never too early to introduce your kids to the kitchen. In fact, taking the time to involve them in food prep may just be what you need to encourage healthy eating habits! Children are much more likely to try and eat foods that they had a hand in making. To make helping in the kitchen a fun experience, consider making or purchasing a “helper’s apron”. A special apron or shirt for the kitchen signals that this is a special and fun event! Here are five great ways kids can help in the kitchen. by Rachel Quinlan
1. Rip greens for salads
Even the smallest hands can help rip lettuce, spinach, or kale leaves into smaller, bite-sized pieces. This is also a great opportunity to practice fine motor skills. Wash the greens ahead of time and place them on a paper towel. Then, show your child how to rip the large leaves into smaller leaves and place them in the salad bowl.
2. Measure dry ingredients
Skip purchasing store-bought muffins or cookies and bake them at home. Kids love measuring dry ingredients (and sifting them too!). Introducing measuring cups is a wonderful learning opportunity; you can discuss the concept of quantities as well as fractions. You can vary how to fulfill the recipe requirements; for example, you could show your children how 3 one-third cups can fill 1 cup. This ‘helping’ may be a bit messy at first as children learn to transfer and measure flour from the bag to a bowl — however, the confidence they’ll acquire as little helpers will be worth the mess.
3. Whisk ingredients
Measuring wet ingredients might be too messy for preschoolers, but they will love whisking ingredients together. This is another great activity to encourage fine motor skills. Mixing wet ingredients together quickly can cause bubbles, as well as colour changes depending upon the ingredients. Whisking wet and dry ingredients together also allows children to see how the ingredients’ consistency can change.
4. Sprinkle toppings
Whether it’s shredded cheese, bread crumbs, or icing sugar, let children sprinkle the final ingredients on top. They’ll love adding the final touches to lasagnes, fish, salads, or muffins. Other great finishing toppings include croutons, dried fruit, fresh minced herbs, sliced almonds or actual sprinkles on cookies or ice cream!
5. Cleaning up
Having your children clean up after cooking is an important part of the process; it instills that once an activity is finished, an area should be clean and appear as it did before you began. Children can help to put dirty measuring cups in the sink or the dishwasher and can put empty containers in recycling.
Children learn healthy eating habits from their parents. Now is the time to make broccoli, quinoa, and homemade goodies appealing. Taking the time to include your little ones in the food prep in the kitchen can communicate two important ideas. First, healthy food takes time to prepare in the kitchen—but it is worth the work. Second, eating healthy can be fun!
Rachel Quinlan is the owner of Baby Vegas, an online store specialising in children’s toys and collectible goods with, a focus on educational toys. She’s also a mother, and one who loves finding fun activities to do with her kids, especially when they help with their learning and development. You can follow their facebook page for regular updates.