Having little helpers in the kitchen sounds so nice right? Ha! I’ll admit in my head it always seems like it will be such an amazing learning experience, and maybe, just maybe, Sissybird will pop something in her mouth while we’re prepping ingredients, but alas, the reality is cooking with my kids, can sometimes, be stressful!
They can make a big mess, ruin your recipe when you turn your head, and basically make you want to pull your hair out by the time you are finished!
So why do I keep doing it? Because I feel responsible for teaching them this life skill that is preparing food and being able to feed themselves some day! How else will they learn? They are naturally interested in the process and they really do learn a great deal from cooking. Plus it increases the chance of them eating something healthy.
So here is how I “keep my cool” in the kitchen- It’s all about PREP!
Ever hear of the French phrase “Mise in Place”? Basically a fancy way of saying “Put in Place”. And quite simply- that’s how I do it! Sissybird has been up on a stool since about 2.5 “helping” me, and after many messes, I’ve learned that this simple preparation is what changes this from a chore to something special we do together!
This works especially well for baking, which is really what my kids like to help with the most. I line all of my ingredients and tools up in the order that we will use them from left to right. I do this before the kids come into the kitchen…ideally! I find this way I’m able to enjoy their help and keep a handle on the chaos that could ensue if I’m otherwise distracted pulling ingredients out of the pantry or trying to study the recipe. Can you tell I’ve learned this from previous experiences?
Another tip is to give each child a specific task and one that’s appropriate for their age and skill level. Sissybird is able to pour and measure liquids, scoop batter into muffin cups, and whisk eggs. Buddybird is great at mashing bananas, rolling meatballs, and cracking eggs. They are both good at lining muffin tins, putting toppings on muffins, stirring dry ingredients, and washing fruits & vegetables.
Whole food recipes can require a lot of ingredients, but most of them use similar things like coconut oil, almond flour, eggs, & spices. Of course opening a package of pre-measured cake mix and dumping eggs and oil into a bowl is easier (and absolutely still allows your children to learn and create memories with you) but for us being able to control the quality of ingredients at each step has become important.
I hope you’ll try my tips and get your kids in the kitchen with you too!