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Teaching kids to cook: start with breakfast

Now is a great time to cook with your kids. More of us are finding ourselves cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home, so chances are children are in the kitchen with you anyway. Give them age-appropriate tasks and before you know it, you’ll have your own sous chefs.

My grandchildren love to cook with me when they visit. The first thing they ever wanted to make was “Debiled” Eggs (Deviled Eggs). My twin granddaughters are now seven years old and my grandson is five. I polled each one by asking, “What do you like to eat for dinner?” Hands down, the winner was breakfast. They all said pancakes, waffles, and eggs. Although my grandson’s favorite was a chocolate (hazelnut spread) pancake sandwich. He described in great detail the whole process he goes through to break his eggs into a bowl, stir them up, and pour into the frying pan his mom then cooks on the stove.

“Breakfast foods are a great place for kids to start cooking,” said my daughter. “With supervision, they can use the toaster and microwave.” She still handles cooking on the griddle, but recently, I was contacted by video call to judge their pancake making contest. They used food coloring to color pancake batter, filled squeeze bottles and made pancake designs on the griddle. (Grandma knows better than to choose a winner so they each got a “best of category”.) Having fun in the kitchen is the key to getting them involved.

A little patience is required when teaching children to cook. A simple task for you might be challenging for them. Each child’s skills are different, so progress with activities as their confidence builds. Go over ground rules first. Wash hands with warm soapy water. Tie long hair back. And this one is the hardest – no tasting until the food is done. For you, make sure the kitchen is safe, sharp knives put away and no cords dangling. Be sure to turn handles inward so hot pans don’t get knocked off the stove.

Age appropriate tasks:

3-5 year olds – mixing, stirring, mashing, washing fruits and vegetables, tearing lettuce.

6-8 year olds – measuring, beating with a whisk, following a simple recipe, and cutting with child-safe knives.

9-12 year olds – help with menu planning, chopping, following recipes, with supervision pre-teens can be taught to use hand mixers, personal-size blender for smoothies, breakfast sandwich maker, egg cooker, egg bites maker and waffle makers.

There’s an education component too:

Don’t forget the kitchen is a gold mine for homeschool activities. Measuring cups and spoons are a math lesson on fractions. Baking is a science experiment – waiting to see what happens when you combine different ingredients. Look up the origins of foods to practice reading. Describe an emulsion by making a salad dressing. Try writing a menu to come up with descriptive words. For a lesson on finance, fill an online grocery cart and see how much it takes to feed a family. The possibilities are endless and fun too.

For inspiration to start kids cooking, here are some of my favorite breakfast recipes:

  1. Pancake Breakfast Taco
  2. Tater Tot Waffles
  3. Whole Grain Waffles Recipe
  4. Peanut Butter Banana Waffles
  5. Egg, Ham and Cheese Muffin
  6. Pancakes and Sausage Breakfast Sandwich
  7. Breakfast Sandwich Maker Huevos Rancheros
  8. Freezer Pack Spinach and Fruit Smoothie
  9. Red, White & Blue Power Smoothie
  10. Go Sport Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie
  11. Strawberry Banana Smoothie
  12. Blueberry Smoothie Bowl
  13. Warm Chocolate Croissant
  14. Cranberry No-Bake Energy Bites
  15. Peanut Butter and Jelly Oatmeal Bowl
  16. Peach Toast with Ricotta and Mint
  17. Blackberry Toast with Brie and Basil

Looking to get your teen more involved in the kitchen?
Check out this article, Teach Your Teen to Cook: Easy Toaster Oven Tips.

Have you engaged your children more in the kitchen?
Share your tips in the comments section below.

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