Kids in the Kitchen – Guest Post by Julie Angelo

Under Title

From a very early age, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my grandmother. I used to dream of having a family and cooking with my kids the same way my grandmother did with me. I’ve been blessed with 3 amazing children and each one of them are involved in the kitchen.

There are several great reasons to have your kids help you in the kitchen – the biggest one is memories, followed by education – not only how to cook but it builds critical thinking, offers help with math, reading and comprehension.  Take it one step further and look into the history of the foods you make.

This past summer, I did a 50 states project with my children, age 4, 8 and 14. We researched the states together, covered some history, geography and learned some fun trivia while making awesome memories. I work full time so we did our meal planning portion over the weekend. The kids had a blast and were introduced to some new foods as well (white barbecue sauce – good stuff).

Some parents aren’t sure when to start their children in the kitchen. Depending on the skill being taught, maturity plays a large role (such as using a sharp knife or the stove). I started my children when they were able to sit up by playing with cooking utensils, such as whisks, wooden spoons, spatulas, pots and pans (they make beautiful music). After learning to walk, I would give them a bowl or a pan and some cheap spices, oats, flour, water, etc and let them be creative with pouring and dumping, stirring, etc. Messy? Of course, but messes are part of learning and can be cleaned up. Around 2, they become “real” helpers – putting ingredients together in measuring cups, dumping in pans or bowls, and of course, licking the beaters. Every child is different so it’s a matter of observing your child, assessing their age and maturity. One area of importance to stress when children start in the kitchen is food safety.

My son, at 4 years old, makes awesome biscuits and dumplings. He’s great with the rolling pin and kneading. My 8 year old loves using the grill and the stove, she’s also a cast iron addict. She also loves using knives for chopping and dicing – that was a first for her – using a sharp knife, this past summer – she was happy. My 14 year old loves baking and making sauces from a roux. I’m amazed watching where my children shine. The excitement when they learn a new skill makes my heart full.  

Here are some recommendations by age to consider – again every child is different.

Under 3:
Washing fruits and vegetables
Stirring ingredients
Spooning ingredients into measuring cups and spoons
Pouring into bowls or pans
Food safety & hygiene

Ages 3-5
Cutting soft ingredients (butter, cream cheese) with a butter knife
Breading and flouring – set up the dredging station in plastic bags and handle the meat unless you are comfortable with your child touching meat (maturity/use your judgement)
Mixing
Tearing lettuce for salad and assembling
Kneading
Rolling, shaping and cutting dough
Spreading (butter, jam, jelly, frosting)
Food safety & hygiene

Ages 5-7
Cutting with scissors – snipping herbs for example
Grating – fingers can easily be grated so keep watch and make sure they don’t get too close to the end of whatever they’re grating
Measuring (and using this as an opportunity to ask for example, how many 1/3 cups to make 1 cup, etc)
Rubbing in flour and butter with fingertips for a pie crust or biscuits
Beating and folding
Greasing and lining cake pans, cookie sheets, muffin pans
Peeling hard-boiled eggs (they may not be perfect, but still edible)
Food safety & hygiene

Ages 8-11
Following a simple recipe
Using a peeler and grater
Using a sharp knife to chop, slice, dice
Using a stove and oven
Using a blender
Food safety & hygiene

Age 12+
Following more complex recipes
Food safety & hygiene

Create those memories that have so much more behind it with your children, let them make a mess, have a flop.  That’s how we learn.

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This entry was posted in Member Contributions, Scratch Cooking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Kids in the Kitchen – Guest Post by Julie Angelo

  1. This is excellent! It’s so great to see kids learning how to cook!

    Liked by 1 person

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