We have always loved to cook. In fact, one of the reasons we fell in love with our house was the big, cooking-friendly kitchen. We used to cook big meals and have all our friends over. We would peruse Coo’s Illustrated for a fun recipe to try, or browse Cooking Light for something yummy.
Having twins changed that. For the first year or so, we stopped cooking very much and focused more on survival (Can it be made in 20 minutes or less? Is it reasonably healthy? Have we only had this meal twice this week?) but now that are babies are becoming toddlers, we are cooking more, and thinking ahead to including them in our cooking and baking. Krissy wrote earlier this week about making memories with your children—baking and cooking are memories I’d like my children to have. (Check out these older HDYDI twins, having so much fun cooking! What cuties!)
The moms of HDYDI have some fantastic ideas about cooking with small children.
Be prepared for a mess
Kids aren’t neat. Kids “helping” with cooking—-really, really not neat. Accept that before you start and everyone will have more fun. For an example of this issue, see Sarah’s experience with Chex Mix here.
Start at the end of the recipe
Think about moms doing the first 80% of the work, and the kids doing the last 20% (and the most fun), such as frosting a cake, decorating cookies, adding chocolate chips to batter or putting sprinkes on cupcakes. Later on, baking can be a good activity with lots of things to measure and pour. Pizza is another good cooking together food—moms or dads can roll out pizza dough and kiddos can put the toppings on.
Very young kids can enjoy the smallest of “helping” tasks. One suggestion, sit the kiddos on the floor, on a towel and have them stir the frozen juice and water in a plastic pitcher. Or, have them sit in chairs at the counter, stirring their own (empty) bowls with their own spoons.
Include a lot of play
If you’re making muffins, you can let them play with the mix. Peeling veggies? They can play with the peel. Or, they can dump in the oil or eggs. (Breaking eggs can be lots of fun for the older ones!). Stir! And stir some more. Another fun activity is spooning muffin mix into the tins. Or setting the timer. Some kids have their own drawer in the kitchen with mixing spoons and other cooking implements.
Cooking’s about eating
Letting kids taste what you’re making is half the fun! (Obviously, if raw eggs are involved, you need to be careful with this).