Cooking With Kids And Teens

After a long day at work, would it be nice to come home to a dinner table set with plates, drinks, napkins and forks? Or even better, how about walking into the smell of aromatic delight coming from your kitchen? It is possible to have your kids, prepare a meal with dad's supervision and with some initial teaching and training.

Children naturally love to explore, and cooking is the best way for them to become creative. Why? It teaches many skills including: confidence, creativity, math, science, reading, geography, nutrition, healthy eating habits, culture and organization. There is no other subject area or hobby that truly integrates so much richness. Try to think of one? If you look at school subjects, most things are taught in isolation. Not cooking. It is the best well rounded subject I know.

So how are you going to get your kids cooking? Just start them in the kitchen no matter how old they are. Let them mix, pour and help you with simple tasks. Spend time with your child in the kitchen, teach them that cooking is not only a great life skill, but that they can be creative and make things with so many ingredients. Laugh with them at messes and mistakes, and then teach them how to clean it up or fix their mistake. Here are some other suggestions to encourage an interest in cooking:

1) Plan a family night, where you and your child do the shopping for one meal, let your child pick out things and be involved in the process.

2) Have your child help you prepare food for a party, have a "kid friendly menu" for the kids attending the party and create a sign names the food and put your child's picture next to it with a heading "created by Chef____".

3) Praise your child for doing even the simplest task in the kitchen.

4) Enroll your child in a series of cooking classes (four minimum). One class is too short to really learn much, and the child may be shy at first. But by class four, watch out! Your child will want to take more classes.

5) Make cooking a priority in your house so that kids understand the value of food made from scratch.

6) Don't let your child see that you struggle in the kitchen. Relax, and try to have fun with food. Don't prepare "boxed foods", they are not fun or interesting.

As you teach your child the value of cooking, you will be able to step back and let your child prepare some fun treats for you. But don't forget the formal training first.......especially when you don't have the time. Take your child to a series of cooking classes or enroll your child in culinary camp, and then let him or her come home and cook what they learned in class for you. Above all, make cooking fun and pleasurable for your child. And always have an adult supervise the child in the kitchen for safety reasons.

When enrolling your child in a formal cooking class, look for these basic fundamental things that your child can learn: how to safely use a knife (depending on age), how to use appliances safely(depending on age), the difference between herbs and spices, how to bake cakes, cookies, breads, how flavors go together in a dish, measuring, mixing, folding, how to be organized and follow the recipe, how to make a basic dish from scratch, how to make soups and sauces, and how to clean up while they cook. Your child will surprise you, and you'll feel good that your child is learning a healthy skill that will last a lifetime. Formal cooking classes will give your child the confidence to come home and cook in your kitchen. Cooking: the best life skill to learn!