Simple How To: Teaching Kids To Cook

August 01, 2017

Mama Motivation with Michelle

Being a Mom is synonymous with being busy. Whether you are driving the kids to school and other activities, or making weekend plans for you and your significant other, healthy eating can sometimes get overlooked. Get some Mama Motivation to get you and your little ones to get into the kitchen together to enjoy a little #SimpleFoodFun.

Meet Michelle. Michelle is the Vice President of Marketing here at Simple Mills, and as a wife and mother with three little ones of her own, she is the definition of busy. Michelle knows with a full schedule comes sacrifices, but one thing she will never sacrifice is health, that includes mindful eating habits for both her and her family. How does she keep her kids eating healthy? By getting them involved in the kitchen! 

Simple Mills Vice President of Marketing Michelle with her three young sons

From the tiniest of tots to those tricky teenagers, Michelle is sharing how parents can teach their kids to cook at any age. Kids are never too young to help out in the kitchen, plus, they get to learn about new foods, shapes, colors, and even experience new tastes.

Children, 5 and Under

Look the Part. Kids love to dress up, so have a small apron and chef’s hat for them to wear when they help you in the kitchen and be sure to get one for yourself too!

Wash Produce. Ask your children to help you wash and scrub fresh fruits and vegetables. This is a great opportunity to ask your little ones about their favorite fruits and vegetables and maybe point out new ones for them to try. 

Measure It Out. Put ingredients in small cups or bowls that children can easily hold and pour into separate measuring cups. Use spoons to transfer ingredients as this will help your children practice focused concentration.

Paint. Get a small brush and let your children brush fresh vegetables with olive oil before roasting or baking them in the oven. 

Chop Chop. Give your little ones a small butter knife and have them cut soft ingredients that are easy to slice like bread, hard-boiled eggs, veggies, or fresh fruit such as berries or watermelon.

Michelle's son wearing a Simple Mills apron cutting strawberries with butter knife

Roll It Out. Grab a rolling pin and have your little helper roll out the baking dough for your recipe.

Spreading. Ask your children to help spread toppings on items like almond butter on bread or hummus on crackers. Keep in mind a kid’s butter knife works best for smaller hands.

Top It Off. Set out toppings for your recipe and allow your little one to top off the dish. Whether you are making a homemade pizza, a loaded baked potato, or sensational sandwich, let the little ones add their final touch of flair before serving.

Children, Ages 6-10

Spice it Up. Grab all of the herbs and spices your recipe calls for and have your children smell them. Make a game out of it and see if they can identify certain scents. 

Chef in Training. Purchase a smaller chef’s knife and teach your child proper knife skills like how to properly hold the knife and the correct ways to cut and chop ingredients.

Get Crackin’. Ask your little one to crack and whisk eggs together all on their own. Then do fun activities like dipping chicken cutlets in the whisked eggs followed by breadcrumbs (or crushed crackers) before placing on a baking sheet and cooking.

Heating Up. Allow them to turn on the stove and oven (keep close for this one!) and emphasize the importance of safety measures when using these hot appliances (i.e. only using the stove when there is a pot or pan on top of it, keeping the flame small, always wearing or using oven mitts when taking items out of the oven, etc.)

Start off Small. Start off with easy recipes like scrambled eggs. Begin with the basics and let them add fresh vegetables like spinach, mushroom, and onions, then add in the whisked eggs and stir. Bon appetit!

Mix It Up. Foods like pancakes and waffles are easy to experiment with fun mix-ins. Try toppings like sliced fruit, nut butters, or shredded coconut for a delicious dish.

Michelle's son pouring Simple Mills pancake and waffle mix into mixing bowl

Children, 11 and Above

Divide & Conquer. Now is the perfect time to get your young ones comfortable at the grocery store. Split up the shopping list and have your child find the items on their portion of the list. Let them determine which produce or snacks they prefer. 

Buy Some Books. When kids get older, this is when the fun really begins. Buy a bunch of beginner cook books (or look on your fave food websites) and and let them pick out what they want to make for a meal or snack. Some of Michelle’s favorite kid-friendly cookbooks include: Best Lunch Box EverCool World CookingThe Can’t Cook BookDinner Made Simple, and Eat Fresh Food

Scavenger Hunt! Have them locate all of the ingredients they need from the kitchen and let them get to it! Act as their sous chef and be there for a helping hand if needed, but let them take the lead.

Michelle pointing to a section in cookbook as son holds bell peppers and looks on

Top Chef. At this age, kids will most likely feel comfortable handling the majority of the recipe on their own (if they know the basics listed above!), with supervision when using sharp utensils or any cooking that involves high heat. 

Get Creative. Kids are opinionated! Let them create their own recipe. Start with ideas on what kinds of ingredients can make up an omelet or a spaghetti sauce and let them go from there.

Getting the kids in the kitchen at an early age will not only will save time in the long run (hello, extra hands!), but will help your little ones become comfortable with those more "adult" fruits, veggies, and culinary styles. That will hopefully lead to a lifetime of healthy eating. #SimpleFoodFun ahead!

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