I’ve shared that one of my summer goals is to teach my boys to cook.
No chef hats or complicated techniques.
Just survival cooking. The kind that will keep them alive in their bachelor years.
They are seven and nine, and they’ve helped me in the kitchen in the past, but I want them to gain some independence.
I had each of them choose one simple meal that they would make every other week. My goal is for them to become comfortable enough with their meal to make it completely on their own by the end of the summer.
Here are a few of my tips for teaching kids to cook:
1. Keep it simple. My boys chose . . . spaghetti and tacos. These are pretty much the easiest meals we eat. But they are real meals, and perfect for a child.
2. Focus on basic kitchen skills. Even with these simple meals, basic skills are involved.
- Knife skills. My nine year old chose spaghetti because he wanted to make garlic bread to go with it. I am teaching him to keep his fingers far away from the knife. (I taught him the “tuck your fingers in” technique right after this picture!)
- Recipe reading skills. You probably don’t read them (I don’t!), but there are instructions on the back of taco seasoning packets and pasta boxes. Reading these instructions will help a child start to understand the format in which recipes are written.
- Basic cooking techniques. From how to boil water to how to drain the fat off of ground beef . . . these are the things that make someone feel comfortable in the kitchen, which is my ultimate goal for my kids.
3. Give yourself lots of time, and them lots of praise! Even though these are the meals that I can have on the table in less than fifteen minutes using my pre-cooked ground beef, they may take an hour to prepare with the kids. Because I want them to know how to get a meal from the store to the table, I have them defrost and cook the meat on their own. And of course, the teaching and the not-as-skilled child-hands just add more time.
And what about younger children?
I didn’t plan for my five year old to have her own meal for the summer. Turns out, she just assumed that she would have one. I let her make jambalaya using a mix in the rice-cooker. It’s about as easy as possible, doesn’t involve any contact with heat, and she can easily chop the meat because it’s technically already cooked and easy to cut with a dinner knife.
She also volunteers to help out when the boys cook! I definitely don’t want to squelch her love of being in the kitchen!
And now for our Menu Plan for the week:
Monday – Spaghetti
Tuesday – Crockpot Chicken BBQ sandwiches
The rest of the week involves kids at grandma’s, me at Savvy Blogging Summit, hubby at a family reunion, etc . . . so I’ll stock up on some easy stuff for them to have.
I’ll be linking this up to Orgjunkie.com for Menu Plan Monday.