Cooking is a skill that is gradually becoming a lost art in our society.
In America in 1900 only 2 percent of meals were eaten outside the home but by 2010 that number had jumped to 50 percent and just last year the Commerce Department reported that sales in American restaurants totaled $52.3 billion surpassing the $49.7 billion spent at grocery stores.
The list of reasons why American’s choose not to eat at home includes; not having enough time, not wanting to clean up afterwards, inconvenience of shopping for groceries, and not knowing how to cook.
Peace of mind comes from knowing how to take care of yourself. If you know how to cook help teach those skills to others, especially children. Giving them understanding and experience with the proper tools will help them develop these essential life skills.
When they are ready, step back and let them do things on their own. Don’t worry about the mess, remember you’re helping to build a love of the process and sometimes that process can get extra messy but while they are learning to cook they will also become more independent and confident, learn scientific and mathematical equations, have an outlet to express creativity, and form stronger family relationships.
Kitchen Skills by Age
The Happy Helper: 2-5 Year Olds
Begin teaching basic concepts, with a short attention span they just want to be your helper.
Washing fruits and veggies
Stirring, whisking or mixing batters
Using a Mortar and Pestle for fresh ground herbs and spices
Spreading nut butter, butter, jam, or frosting
Mashing cooked veggies
Measuring liquid and dry ingredients
Cutting soft fruits and veggies with a child friendly knife.
Love of Learning” 6-8 Years Old
Use close constant supervision. Learning to read cookbooks and follow directions.
Cracking, Separating and Whisking eggs
Using a vegetable peeler, can opening, garlic press and box grater
Mixing muffin and brownie batter and cookie dough
Using a paring knife
Boiling eggs and pasta
Cutting with scissors to snip herbs
Real Responsibility: 9-12 year olds
Begin teaching them to read labels. Give them more freedom to prepare things on their own.
Trimming and slicing fruit and veggies
Sautéing and roasting veggies
Putting food in the oven and removing it
Using a timer
Baking quick breads, muffins and cookies
Using small appliances: blender, food processor, waffle maker, stand mixer.
Cooking on a griddle: pancakes, grilled sandwiches, hamburgers
Using a chef knife and other larger knives
Independent Chef: 13-16 year olds
Shouldn’t need supervision. Allow them to choose and prepare meals for the family.
Prepare a family meal plan
Able to use all kitchen appliances
Able to thoroughly clean up after themselves
Develop knife skills that include chopping, mincing and dicing.
Pan frying, broiling and grilling meats
Using a slicer or mandolin
Recognizing ingredients by texture, smell and taste
Understanding of time and temperature
Try these Kid Friendly Recipes
References: Hyman, Mark, MD. “How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life.” The Huffington Post. May 25, 2011. Accessed April 2016. www.huffingtonpost.com.