Getting Children Involved in the Kitchen

“Look Mom! You really DO bake love into the crust!”

Those words from my 7-year-old made me smile. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen and cooking together is part of how we spend time together as a family. We are a family of 9 and we homeschool and homestead. Our small homestead has chickens, dairy goats, occasionally pigs, and recently a guernsey heifer (that means a female calf who has not yet had a baby). While we certainly don’t make everything from scratch, we do make a lot and enjoy cooking.  

A few years ago, just before Thanksgiving, my now 13-year-old and I were making pumpkin pie for the upcoming meal. We were talking about pie crusts and why you should handle them as little as possible. Her response was that if robots could do it, then it wouldn’t get warm.

Without thinking, I said, “But then it wouldn’t be made with added love.”

We proceeded to talk about how, as we are baking, we can pray for the people who will join us for the meal, the people who we miss, those who don’t have enough to eat, and those we eat with every day.

Then I flopped the crust ball onto the counter and started rolling.

“Look Mom! You really DO bake love into the crust!”

With a child who has Celiac disease, we started off making a lot at home because 13 years ago, there wasn’t a lot of labeling and care for gluten free items. There weren’t dedicated facilities and alternative flours like there are now. There was really no such thing as convenience food for her.  So we cooked at home.  

Over the years, even as gluten free items have become more available, we’ve continued cooking a lot at home.  It’s time together, understanding of how to fuel our bodies, and the importance of knowing where your food comes from.  When we cook at home, we can improve the quality of our food and learn how to take care of ourselves into the future. 

I regularly get asked how my 7-year-old can make a full bacon, eggs, and toast breakfast, or that my 11-year-old-can make a whole roast pork and sweet potatoes dinner.  “I taught them how,” is my answer.  Do we still have pizza and drive through meals? For sure sometimes, but we also have conversations about how a tummy ache is sometimes connected to eating too much junk food at a party.  When you want kiddos to learn how to do something, you teach them, right?  It’s just as true for cooking as it is for making their bed or cleaning up their toys. 

If it’s overwhelming to think about how to get kids involved. Know that we all start at the beginning.  No one goes from zero to gourmet chef in an instant, so next time, I want to give you some steps to get your kids involved.  Before you dive into this list, just remember to Take a deep breath.  Cooking with kids is not faster or neater than doing it yourself.  However, fast isn’t the goal.  Togetherness, ownership, and skill-building are the goals.  There are times when I don’t invite the kids into the kitchen because I need to do something fast or it’s really only a one person job, but usually, with a little creativity I can think of something for them to do.

Next week, I’ll share with you my top 10 tips for actually getting to the point where your kids can start baking love into it too!

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2 years ago

I love your writing. And the encouragement to take a deep breath, have patience because the end result is worth it.

Kelvin Solomon
Kelvin Solomon
2 years ago

Bless you. Goes with the age old adage “teach a man to fish” I have a four year old granddaughter and she loves to help Nana and Papa cook. And she is a very good help in the kitchen even at her age. You have to be safe with her of course but she wants to learn and that’s where it starts. Did with me, my mother and grandmother taught me cooking skills and dad and grandpa taught me how to build everything need for life and how to wire everything from a light bulb to an electric motor. When they want to learn teach them the skills they need for life. They will never forget those skills or you for doing it.

Sarah Kroger
2 years ago

Exactly! They will never learn if they don’t have a chance to be in the kitchen. Of course there are precautions, but honestly, they’re capable of so much more than we give them credit for. My 12 year old has been able to make a full meal for our entire family for several years. Why? Because she’s been in the kitchen with me her whole life.

2 years ago

[…] started a conversation about involving kids in the kitchen.  If you missed it, you can read it here.  When you get your kids involved, you will be able to see them beam with pride when they make […]

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