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Cooking With Your Kids

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Kids love to cook!!!

There are so many wonderful reasons for you to spend time in the kitchen with your children. Cooking and other chores help children learn and build personal responsibility. It also builds confidence, makes children feel they contribute, and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Spending time cooking with your children is a wonderful way to bond with them and to give them the attention they crave. It is a relaxed and fun way to talk with your children and to open communication channels. Working together to put a meal on the table also builds cooperation too.

Educational Benefits Too!!

There is also a ton’s worth of educational benefits for children who cook.  It can stimulate creativity; it provides real-life applications for reading, it increases vocabulary and comprehension. It helps children learn to follow directions. They can learn about other cultures too. Cooking provides hands on, real life application of math skills such as weights and measurements as well as fractions. Science concepts that can be learned include concepts like matter changes (water from liquid to ice) and the four seasons.

Physical Dexterity

Another extremely important benefit of having children help out in the kitchen is that cooking helps develop fine motor skills, or strengthens the small muscles controlling the hand, fingers, and thumb. Cooking activities helps improve dexterity and eye-hand coordination.

Be Patient

Small, inexperienced hands work slower than experienced adult hands. So set aside plenty of time when cooking with children. It takes many, many, many attempts to learn a new skill. Children need time and tons of patience and encouragement from you. Children need a lot of practice to get comfortable with the skills involved in measuring, mixing, cutting and dicing. Expect slowness. Expect messes. Slowness and messiness allowed. Give lots of positive reinforcement.

Clean-up

Teach neatness. But don’t get hyper when messes are made. It is all part of the learning process. And part of that learning experience is that when messes are made we clean them up. It is just the way it is. Cleaning up after cooking is a part of the job, and everyone should help in this task.

My Great Nieces In the Kitchen

 

 Age Appropriate Tasks

Kitchen and cooking activities need to be age appropriate. All children and teens can participate in menu planning. Very young children can retrieve ingredients from the pantry or the refigerator,  help set the table, clear their own dishes from table to sink, clean the table after meals, and put away clean utensils. Very young children can also make their own easy breakfasts, make sandwiches, help to measure ingredients such as sugar, flour, butter, or, when old enough cut up vegetables. As children get older and more responsible you can add other cooking activities to their repertoire.

Safety First

When cooking with children the first rule in the kitchen should be SAFETY FIRST. You must set firm rules in this regard and enforce them. Adult supervision is extremely important when children first learn to cook. As they become more proficient you can give them a bit more independence. Also, older children can help with younger siblings. But always be available and continue to monitor when needed.

A very important safety rule involves the use of knives. Very young children should not use sharp knives. They can learn how to handle knives by spreading butter or peanut butter over bread using a table or plastic knife. They can use kitchen scissors to cut up herbs and hot dogs. They can use a spoon to scrape seeds out of cucumbers. An appropriate age to begin learning to use sharp knives is around 10 years of age.

 

Making Birthday Cupcakes

 

Making Memories

There is more to cooking with children than just having help in the kitchen and providing rich educational benefits. More importantly it is about spending quality time with your children. It is about learning about them and who they are and their likes and dislikes.  And it  is also a chance for your children to learn some new things about you as well.

Cooking together creates many and special memories of time together creating, laughing, and sharing. Eating is one of life’s most pleasurable pastimes. You are participating in a ritual that has gone on for eons – breaking bread together and giving thanks for life.

Take lots of pictures of you and your children cooking. Make a scrapbook, including the messes, as well as the finished product. You won’t regret it. Make a cookbook of favorite recipes you cook with your kids. Include pictures of you cooking your favorite recipes.

Memories of flour all over the kitchen, of wonderful smells coming from the oven, of  laughter and learning will last a life time not only for you but for your children, and even for your children’s children.

Priceless.

It is memories like these that Dean Martin sang about in “Memories Are Made of This.”

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Kid Friendly Recipes

First I would remind you that there are several child friendly recipes already posted on this blog. In the post titled, “So All May Eat,” both the English Muffin and the Tortilla recipes can be made with children. Children could assemble both of those recipes completely on their own. Younger children may need help putting them in a hot oven. They can help you do it.

In the post titled, “Going Nuts,” children can help and some may be able to assemble all of the Peanut Butter, Banana, and Honey Sandwich. Same for Ants On a Log, (celery with peanut butter and raisins.) The child may also substitute cream cheese or cheese spread for the peanut butter. Older children could make the grilled peanut butter sandwich.

Today I am going to share some other easy recipes that children of all different ages can make.

This time I am not going to show pictures for every recipe provided with cost breakdowns. I will provide that for the Featured Recipe only. But you can rest assured these recipes are not going to break your budget. Most of the ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and/or fridge.

1. Cinnamon Toast

One of the first things very young children can learn to prepare is toast. Why not make toasted bread even better by adding some cinnamon. You will need a slice of bread for each person, some butter, a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon mixed together.

Toast the bread, spread butter on and add a bit of the sugar cinnamon mixture.

Few things smell better than cinnamon on hot toast with melting butter.

Making your own cinnamon toast is much cheaper than buying cinnamon bread at the store. Mix ½ cup sugar to 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. You can keep a bit of the mixture in an air tight jar to have ready at all times.

2. Cinnamon Apples

Cut an apple into slices. Let your children sprinkle some cinnamon over the top. Microwave the apple for about 1 minute. This is so simple and so delicious. The smell alone is wonderful.

3. Fruit Kabobs

Cut assorted fruit into small bites. Allow children to assemble the fruits in any order they want on a wooden skewer. Somehow it is more fun to eat fruit off a small wooden stick. This is a great after school snack too.

4. Chocolate Bananas with Nuts

Slice a banana in half or in thirds depending on size. Drizzle a bit of chocolate syrup over the banana. Crush some nuts in a small plastic bag using a rolling pin. Add nuts to the chocolate drizzle on each banana. I used walnuts on one banana and pistachios on the other. You can also add coconut flakes or candy sprinkles.

This is a great after school snack too. There is enough sweetness in the chocolate to satisfy a sweet tooth, but everything else is very healthy.

4. Reading to your children and cooking go hand-in-hand. Two great books with food themes come to mind quickly.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Read the book and then make green eggs and ham. There are several different recipes for this on the internet and in cookbooks for children. Your library would be a great FREE resource to find both this book title and cookbooks for kids with recipes for green eggs and ham.

Stone Soup (an old fairy tale)

Kids  love this story. It tells how three hungry soldiers trick  the people of a small village into making soup for them for free. You can read this story to your children while the chicken soup you all worked on cooks on the stove. [print_this]

FEATURED RECIPE

5. Banana Strawberry Sandwich

This is what you will need per person:

1 slice of bread      $.99/loaf                                  1 slice=$.04

1 ripe banana                                                       1=$.16

1 squirt of lemon juice 1 lemon $.66                       1 squirt=$.07

1-2 tablespoons strawberry preserves $2.69/12oz    2 tabspns=$.22

Total cost for 3 people = $1.47

Cost per person = $.49

 

This is what you do:

In a small bowl smash the banana with a fork or potato masher, add a few drops of lemon juice.

The mixture should look something like this:

Spread the banana mixture over the bread being careful not to tear the bread. I find that it is easiset to do this by using a spoon. Scoop the mixture onto the bread and use the back of the spoon to gently spread around. I use a melamine spoon and have had no problems. If you use enough lemon juice the mixture is easy to spread.

Top with a layer of the strawberry preserves.

 

3 VARIATIONS:

1. You can just cut the banana in slices also. If you opt for slices put the jam on the bread first and then top with the banana slices. For very young children you would have to cut the banana into slices.

2. Add a third layer by spreading some peanut butter on the bread first, then the banana, and then the strawberry jam.

3. Or make dessert by drizzling some chocolate syrup over the sandwich toped with some nuts.  A banana split on bread.[/print_this]

Share your stories of cooking with children or your kid friendly recipes in the Comments section below.

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