Do your kids like to cook? Do they know how to make anything? My daughter is nine and I was surprised to learn that her best friend, also nine, does not know how to cook anything at all. I asked her mom about it (she’s a close friend of mine) and she said that she didn’t learn how to make anything until she was out of her mother’s house, and that it never occurred to her to start teaching her daughter. She also was concerned that she would get burnt or cut herself. If you are in the same boat and you have pre-teen children who aren’t able to make a meal, here are some easy ideas to get them (and you!) started:
- Start with breakfast foods. At the end of a long day, probably the last thing you want to do is take pains to teach your child how to do things like use the stove or grease a pan. You can teach these basics on a weekend morning by teaching kids to cook breakfast foods. Scrambled eggs are extremely easy. Once he gets the hang of those, show him how to make hard-boiled eggs, and finally fried (though flipping it over takes some practice). Pancakes and French toast are other simple foods that everyone should know how to make before moving out of their parental home.
- Next, work on foods that they will probably rely on when they’re in college. These are typically quick and easy, and make good weekend lunches: grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, pasta. This will give her a good start, and even if that’s all she learns how to make until later in her teens, she’ll be ahead of the game.
- Finally, start incorporating them in your dinner-making. By now, your child will know how to preheat an oven, how to use some of the different appliances that you own and which pans are appropriate for which types of cooking. Simple dishes to start with include baked chicken, spaghetti sauce, anything that goes in the crock pot, chicken soup, mashed potatoes, rice and various vegetables. As their skills increase, go ahead and raise the complexity of the recipes that you try. He might even want to try some recipes that you’ve never made before!
It will be a joy when your child is able to cook meals for the family, but that will come later. And of course, you’ll need to supervise to keep her safe: Don’t let a child younger than her teens use the stove when you’re not home, and teach her important safety tips like turning the pot handles inward and not reaching over gas burners with draping clothing. Also, be sure that she knows how to use a fire extinguisher and that she knows how to treat a simple burn. Don’t panic if she does burn herself slightly on a hot pan or the oven rack; all of us do it on occasion, and it’s good for her to learn how to handle it.
What are some foods that your kids know how to make? How old were they when they started to learn to cook?