It took a few years, but my kids have finally discovered that the more they help me out in the kitchen, the faster dinner gets on the table! Preparing and eating meals together provides me with the opportunity to teach them about healthy eating habits, the importance of food safety, and best of all, we’re spending quality time together as a family!
Everyone can help with dinner prep!
- Go shopping together. Maura likes to pick out a new fruit or veggie every week. Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s not, but either way, I love that she’s so open to trying new things.
- Put groceries away. This boring task becomes bearable (and so much faster) when we do it as a family!
- Retrieve ingredients from the fridge and pantry. Maura loves doing this – it’s like a scavenger hunt!
- Wash fruits and veggies. Have kids use the salad spinner! Clean beans and lentils. Scrub potatoes! I bought this adorable scrub brush and now my kids actually request to scrub the veggies!
- Prepare vegetables. Kids can shuck corn, tear greens, break cauliflower and broccoli into pieces, de-seed bell peppers and squash, peel potatoes, and cut veggies with a plastic knife.
- Cut herbs from the garden. A little basil, rosemary, and parsley add so much flavor to a meal and are fun to pick!
- Open cans with the electric can opener. This took some practice, but Maya has got it down!
- Juice lemons and limes. While the girls don’t have the arm strength to squeeze them, they’re great at using the electric juicer!
- Grease baking dishes. I give Maura a little pastry brush and she ‘paints’ dishes with oil.
- Peel hard-boiled eggs. I honestly loathe peeling hard-boiled eggs, but my kids love it! It’s a time-consuming task that they’re happy to help out with.
- Set the table. This is a given! Kids as young as 2 years old can help set the table with napkins, spoons and forks, and unbreakable dishes.
Time to cook! This is when the magic happens! My kids have learned so much about math, science, and reading by joining me in the kitchen.
- Read recipes together. Step by step, kids learn to follow directions, and practice their reading and comprehension skills.
- Measure, mix and pour ingredients. My girls would say this is “the funnest part” because they get to play scientists as they combine ingredients and watch them dissolve, thicken, or turn into something else entirely.
- Knead dough.
- Pound chicken breasts. I give Maya a mallet and she goes at it!
- Roll meatballs.
- Crack eggs.
- Make butter. Years ago I wrote a post about how to make butter out of heavy cream.
- Apply butter and spreads to bread. Maura makes a mean garlic toast.
- Mash potatoes.
- Assemble dishes, like tacos, pizza and sandwiches.
- Thread food onto skewers.
- Apply garnishes. Sprigs of fresh parsley, lemon wedges, a drizzle of sauce – let your kids get creative!
Clean up, clean up! Keeping the kitchen clean and clutter-free while you cook doesn’t always come naturally to people, so it’s an important lesson to teach your kids.
- Throw things in the trash. Teach kids to throw things away as you go to avoid a big mess at the end. I place a big, colorful garbage bowl on the counter which keeps us from opening the trash can constantly. When the bowl is full, I dump the contents into the trash can lined with a Glad® OdorShield® Gain™ Original Scent with Febreze® trash bag, which neutralizes odors while leaving behind the fresh original scent of Gain™. This way there’s no need for compensating behaviors like wrapping trash to hide the smell. There’s a 5-day Odor Control guarantee… even the most perceptive noses (like that of my sensitive 8-year-old!) won’t notice the trash. Click here to get $2 off any one Glad® Odorshield® Trash Bags (15ct. and higher).
- Wipe up spills on the counter and pick up food that you drop immediately. It’s much easier to clean up fresh spills, plus you don’t want your kids stepping on food and tracking it through the house.
- Put things back in the fridge. This is one of those chores that the kids are good at and plays a big part in keeping the kitchen counter clutter-free.
- Put dishes in the dishwasher. Be sure to empty the dishwasher BEFORE you start dinner so dirty dishes can go in right away!
- Sweep the kitchen floor. We recently had an ant problem, so I make sure that those crumbs get swept up PDQ!
As you can see, no matter their age, kids can help out in the kitchen! I used to think that keeping my girls busy by having them watch TV or go outside to play while I was making dinner was the way to go, but I’ve realized just how much they can bring to the table (literally!) and love the enjoyment and confidence boost they get from helping with mealtime preparation.
Do you let your kids help in the kitchen?
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Glad. The opinions and text are all mine.