Tips For Teaching Your Little One To Cook

overhead view of parent and child preparing vegetables
Have your children been asking if they can help with dinner? Check out these tips by EatingWell for ways to get kids of varying age groups interested in cooking.

Meat and Breading

When your kids have a handle on essential hygiene and hand washing, they might be ready to help out with some prep work before the meat goes into the heat. A good flour dredging is the key to keeping meat from sticking to the pan, and a nice breading can give your meal a satisfying crunch. The clean hands of your young cooks can help out by coating the raw materials in flour, dredging them in egg, then rolling them in a coating of breadcrumbs like panko before the cooking begins. This is also a great opportunity to talk about cross contamination and keeping the kitchen clean.

At the Stovetop

Whether you’re sautéing some mushrooms or searing a steak, safety is always top priority at the stovetop. Around age seven, some kids might be ready for some essential range cooking – think scrambled eggs or grilled cheese for starters. Before you turn up any heat, however, it’s important to go over some necessary rules. Keep pan handles turned away from you so that nobody bumps into them. Don’t position the handles over other burners, though, as that could cause just as much trouble. Keep an oven mitt, pot holder, or dry towel handy to be prepared for hot handles, and remember to never use any of these items if they’re wet – they won’t be able to protect your hands from the heat. When it’s all said and done, double-check to make sure the burners are off, too.

Meal Planning

It’s up to you to make sure your kids are getting what they need from their food, but they can certainly play a part in determining what’s for dinner a few times a week. See if they’d like to help make a certain part of the meal, whether it’s chopping the veggies, breading the meat, or any other task that helps them feel involved. Plan out what you’ll need with them, then bring them along to the market to pick up the ingredients.

Plating with Purpose

If you go out for dinner, or if you spend more than a second on Instagram, you’ll see how much effort is now put into the presentation of food. While the meal must always taste good, dinner is more fun when it looks good, too. That’s why encouraging your young chef to practice their presentation as an easy way to inspire some creativity while teaching them to cook. Visuals elicit an immediate response in diners of all ages, and the way food is decorated and arranged can make it more appetizing. It can start out as simple as arranging ingredients into fun shapes like animals or smiley faces, or adding the icing to a cake in decorative patters with piping bag.

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