Only one more sleep until Halloween! My kids are bouncing off the walls already… yikes! They’ve all been busy baking or cooking in the kitchen and concocting a variety of different experiments… and sometimes it doesn’t always turn out as they had hoped. Kids cooking in the kitchen can be chaotic, but it’s always a great learning adventure and delicious too!
Here are some of the tricks and tips that I’ve learned when my kids want to venture into the kitchen for some homemade treats:
- Embrace the chaos – True confessions, I find significant joy in a clean kitchen… it is one of my love languages. But that love for “spic and span” is not a reality when my kids decide that the kitchen is their current playground. I have learned to embrace the chaos. And the silver lining… well, I know I’ll get fed something pretty yummy and that’s a good thing!
- Enjoy the process – If you are planning to have your kids make dinner, then you probably know that this takes time… a lot of time… at least 2 to 3 hours. For my kids, they want to process it all… they want to touch and feel all the ingredients even though it’s just another package of herbs, then they want to look at the pretty pictures on the recipe and talk about how yummy it looks. The discovery process is ongoing even when they have done this many times before. It just doesn’t get old for them. It’s fun to watch their minds enjoy the whole process. It’s a great lesson for me to learn… to relish the journey and not just the final destination. But sitting down to finally eat is always a welcome destination especially for a hungry mama like me!
- Assign a station – In order to minimize sibling rivalry, I often assign each child to a contained workspace that they are responsible for; it’s their personal “station”. They prep, plate and clean in their contained area and they stay in their zone. Their personal station also helps them know which part of the kitchen they need to clean up… because again, I do love a clean kitchen! And giving everyone their own “special” space minimizes the bickering and fighting that can come with sharing the kitchen!
- Follow some sort of recipe – Sometimes my kids treat the kitchen like a science lab. “Let’s see what happens when I put a little bit of this and a little bit of that”. Well that works sometimes. But when it becomes a huge waste of ingredients on a consistent basis, then I go into my rant about wasting food and I kindly ask them to find a recipe to follow.
- Chop with confidence – Knifing skills can be a little tricky especially when they are still little. Their cute little hands are not quite ready for chopping tough ingredients. But they still want to try! A butter knife and a banana is a good place to start… it’s safe and easy. And once they mastered the butter knife chopping, then they can graduate to a steak knife and cut things like tofu, cucumbers or green beans. I love helpers who can help me chop!
- Eat what you make – This coincides with trick #4. Every experiment you try, you are responsible for eating. This forces my kids to be a little more thoughtful when they want to cook or bake because they are also responsible for eating it. It helps minimize their urge to throw anything they find in a mixing bowl and put it in the oven. The one phrase they often use when they are testing different combinations is “if it grows together, then it goes together”… like mangoes and bananas!
- Find beauty in the food – Plating the food is a creative outlet for my kids. They believe that food is art because food is beautiful. And when it looks good, they just want to dive right in and eat it up!
- Be inspired by…. family/friends or tv – We are that family… we love our tv! My kids often watch Masterchef, Chopped and multiple other cooking shows. We are all hooked. Food shows are one of the ways that have inspired my kids to play in the kitchen. It also helps when special guests like Uncle Brian and Displacedhousewife come to visit and show them the true art of cooking and baking. They always know how to make it fun and yummy!
If you have any other tricks that you use when playing chef and sous chefs with your family, please share! In the meantime, I hope you have a fabulous Halloween and enjoy the various treats from your kitchen!