Teach them to cook and you’ll never hear “there’s nothing to eat” ever again


Teach them to cookWhenever my kids started the “there’s nothing to eat in this house” whine as they stared at an open refrigerator, I usually responded with “there’s a ton of food, just some assembly required.”  Of course, that would only make them grunt and leave in a huff, only to return a few minutes later to stare at the fridge yet again.

If you don’t want to hear them say that again, you should teach them to cook for themselves.

 

When they’re young, have them help you prepare meals.  Little ones can stir, mix and dump things into a bowl for you.  Sure it will end up being a big mess but they have to learn sometime and making messes is a big part of the learning process.  

Teach them to make a simple peanut butter sandwich.  Once they’ve mastered that then move up to a toasted ham and cheese where they actually have to slice the ham and cheese and use the toaster safely.

Once they’ve developed a good understanding and you are confident in their abilities, you can then proceed to the ultimate lunch time sandwich, the grill cheese.

Remembering to butter the outside of the sandwich bread and knowing how to use the stove without burning themselves and setting off the smoke detector is quite a milestone in a kid’s ability to feed themselves.  They will however still need to be supervised.

Show them how to open a can of soup and either heat it on the stove or in the microwave using the right bowls.  Either way, you must supervise them at all times since they both can be dangerous.  By the time they are in their teens, opening and heating should be second nature to them.

As they get older, why not have them help out the next time you’re following a recipe?  Baking is usually the easiest way since you can take your time and have fun with it.  You can show them how to properly measure ingredients and safely use an electric mixer.

Using a knife to cut food is an important skill to teach kids.  There are adults who still don’t know how to use a kitchen knife properly but there are simple tricks that professional chefs use including keeping your fingers curved and cutting on an angle so that the knife goes away from the fingers.  If you’re not certain, look it up on YouTube just to make sure.

Another extremely important skill to teach them is cleanliness.  Always have them wash their hands with warm soapy water properly before touching any food.   If I am ever preparing food that involves any type of meat, poultry or raw eggs, I keep a sink full of hot, soapy water so that I can quickly clean up the counter, cutting boards and knives along with my hands so I don’t accidently start spreading salmonella  everywhere.

Show them that it doesn’t take long to wash all of their fruits and vegetables before cutting, even the ones you’re going to peel.  It can be as easy as running berries under cold water in the sink for a minute just to remove anything that shouldn’t be there.

As they get older, they can help you make simple meals such as chili or a stew.  Have them cut up all the ingredients, throw them in a pot or slow cooker and stir occasionally.  It will be a meal that they will be proud to say that they made themselves.

A snack is what most kids want however when they’re staring in the fridge so why not show them how to make one themselves?

Smoothies are popular in our house because there are so many different combinations available.  We keep a few bags of frozen fruit in our fridge freezer so all we have to do is grab a cup or so of frozen fruit, toss it in a blender, pour in some milk, add some honey for sweetness and let it rip until everything is blended through.  You’ll end up with a great tasting snack that will keep them full for a while.

There are hundreds if not thousands of smoothie recipes online.  One we like uses kale while one of my kids likes to add quinoa and flax seed for a real healthy potion and if it tastes too much like medicine, add some honey for sweetness.

Carrots and celery sticks are not a popular snack with kids unless you offer them something to dunk them in such as hummus or a homemade dip using a combination of yogurt, sour crème and spices.  The dips take a minute to mix up and can be made to suit any taste.  I like them a little sweet while hubby likes them spicy using chili powder and Tabasco sauce.  Keep an eye on the kids when they do make their own dip.  I’ve seen one kid experimenting with chocolate chips and syrup.

Now after all that, if the kids still complain that there’s nothing to eat in the house, it’s because they’re lazy and that’s for a different article.

 

Cate Busch

Special to What To Do With The Kids®

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