Do you ever think that it’s just faster and easier to make the meals yourself than to have your small children help? Don’t send them away! Your children need that time at your side to eventually learn to prepare meals themselves.
My husband is the one who says it’s easier to do things himself. I just tell him, “If you don’t have them help now, you’ll pay for it later when they don’t have a clue what to do.” Later is now. He is paying for it. It took my children a while to figure out the most basic steps to cooking, but they are finally (in their pre-teen/teens) interested in feeding themselves.
Avoid that delay. Help your kids see meal preparation as a fun learning experience, and the extra minutes you spend now will pay dividends later. Plus, you get a great companion while you cook.
1. Have them measure ingredients.
Start with those ingredients that have the least potential for spreading all over, maybe beans, and work up to flour and oil.
2. Bring them shopping and ask their help in choosing ingredients.
Have them help you check the basics off your shopping list. Also, make sure you have a couple of favorite recipes that have flexible ingredients, like infinitely adjustable pasta salad, so your child has real choices to make at the store.
3. Buy a kids’ recipe book.
A cookbook that includes foods with kid-appeal as well as step-by-step instructions with photos that make it easy to understand what to do will not only make the learning process smoother, but it will also give your child a measure of independence once they have a few skills.
4. Show them how to make sandwiches.
Sandwiches are the easy first step into meal preparation for a child. No heat or sharp knives necessary. Just show your child the simple steps to putting tasty spreads on bread. A peanut butter sandwich may seem simple to you, but it’s a mystery to a child who hasn’t made one before.
5. Teach them how to make a pasta salad.
Older children can make pasta salad on their own (sort of—neither of mine are excited to pour out and strain cooked pasta yet), but even a young child can stand on a stool over a bowl of cooked pasta and choose ingredients for a meal.
Baby steps! Help them now and your children will be confident in the future as they prepare their own meals.
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