I think most kids have at least some inclination toward wanting to help out in the kitchen. And since I love to cook, I’m not surprised that my kids seem to have quite a bit of desire to help out and learn. Even the toddler, Mr. J, seems to count pretending to “cook” with my pans and spoons (and possibly scraps of real food if he can find any!) as one of his favorite activities.
While I generally let my kids “help out” a bit as soon as they are old enough to stir and crack eggs, I’ve noticed that it has been in the past six to nine months that Miss M (who recently turned 9) has been really capable of cooking on her own in a very complex way. She has been able to do a few simple kitchen tasks for a few years, like browning ground beef, making scrambled eggs, or heating up soup and making grilled cheese. But this year as her math skills, attention to detail and patience have grown, she is able to follow a recipe from start to finish.
Miss M and I both enjoy baking, both yeast breads and desserts, so it has been natural for us to start there as she grows in more cooking independence. After working closely together on a number of projects, Miss M ventured out and made M & M Blondies (a cookie bar), pizza dough, and an Italian Breakfast Bread almost completely on her own! For the Blondies and Breakfast Bread, I let her explore on Pinterest to find a recipe that she wanted to make.
Next, I want to be a bit more intentional at helping Miss M learn how to make the staples of our dinner menu rotation. She finds this to be a bit less exciting…but I would love to see her capable of making most anything I make by the time she’s in high school. I’m planning to start a “cookbook binder” of sorts for her, and add recipes as we make them together (and make sure she gets a chance to make each one on her own too).
One thing I’ve always been so happy my mom did for me as I was growing up, was that starting in Junior High and continuing through High School, she asked me to take one week every summer where I was in charge of our dinners from start to finish. I planned the menu, made the grocery list, helped with the shopping and then made each dinner. I tried new recipes, as well as practicing family favorites, and I felt well-prepared to cook and plan menus once I was out of college and on my own. As the kids get older, I’ll be asking them to try their hand at doing the same thing.
Right now, the focus of my cooking instruction has been Miss M — but I am sure the boys will be following close behind. They will be learning how to cook as well! I’m not sure if they will develop the passion for it that Miss M seems to have, but they at least need to know the basics.
I’m linking up with Blogging Through the Alphabet @ Ben and Me!