Mother’s Day is almost here, so it’s a good time to start thinking about making a meal for mom’s special day.
One idea is turn your kitchen into a restaurant.
Dads, grandparents and the kids can come up with possible meal options, side dishes and beverages based on ingredients they have at home, or want to purchase.
Then, the kids can draw up a menu. Be sure to make it extra cute.
While mom enjoys her mimosas, the kids can play the wait staff, handing her the menu and writing down her order when she is ready.
They also play the role of sous chef, helping dad and the grandparents make the pancakes, eggs, or whatever mom ordered.
Keep in mind that involving kids in the kitchen doesn’t have to be limited to Mother’s Day.
Getting kids involved in cooking, especially when very young, not only sets them up to enjoy this basic life skill, but also teaches math, science and reading. They also learn how to follow instructions and find out about food safety, proper handwashing, and motor skills.
Kids that help cook are also more likely to eat what was made, and are less intimidated to try new foods.
So, if you have a picky or unhealthy eater at home, consider giving them a role to help out in the kitchen, or at least to get involved in the grocery shopping.
It’s important to know which kitchen tasks are appropriate for which age group to prevent accidents and to keep messes manageable.
According to BBC Good Food, kids under age 3 begin to show interest in mimicking what their parents do, including kitchen tasks.
Under the age of 3, they can:
- Wash produce (this is a great way to introduce them to different fruits and vegetables)
- Stir room-temperature ingredients
- Mash food using a fork or potato masher (make sure food isn’t burning hot)
- Sprinkle ingredients (put a tray underneath to minimize messes)
From ages of 3 to 5, children can help:
- Place ingredients on scales
- Spoon ingredients with measuring spoons
- Use a strong plastic knife to cut soft ingredients, such as butter
- Mix ingredients with either a spoon or hands (this is where proper handwashing particularly comes in handy!)
- Tear herbs or rip apart lettuce
- Spread (butter, icing, etc.)
From ages 5 to 7, they can do more complex tasks. They can:
- Cut, using a small knife (be sure they know how to properly hold the knife to keep their fingers out of the way)
- Cut herbs with scissors (small or child-size scissors are better)
- Measure ingredients
- Grease a baking dish or line it with foil
- Crack an egg
- Peel oranges and hard-boiled eggs (make sure eggs aren’t too hot to hold)
- Set the table
From ages 8 to 11, kids still need supervision, but can be more independent. They can:
- Help plan a family meal
- Follow the steps to a basic no-cook recipe, like a fruit salad
- Gather ingredients from the pantry and fridge
- Use a peeler, whisk or mixer
- Chop vegetables to make a salad
- Use a can opener
Those age 12 and up can perform all of the tasks previously mentioned, as well as following a more complex recipe or tweaking a recipe.
Kids confident in the kitchen will probably want to bake with their friends or start cooking on the stove.
Start slowly with the stove, such as scrambled eggs.
Of course, every child is different, and if you are not comfortable having your child do any particular task, then wait until you think they are ready.
Always show them the proper way to handle kitchen equipment, and explain what can happen if they use something incorrectly.
Who knows? By the time they are teenagers, you might want them to take over some — or all — of the cooking.
What a gift that would be!
And, for all of you moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day.
By Shari Bresin
Shari Bresin is the Family & Consumer Science Agent for the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cooperative Extension Pasco County
Oatmeal Breakfast “Cookies”
4 cups instant oats
3 ripe bananas
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons to 3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup milk or almond milk
Additional water as needed to produce a batter with a thicker cookie-dough-like consistency (as opposed to a thinner pancake batter)
3 tablespoons to 5 tablespoons protein powder (optional)
Use blender to combine all ingredients until mostly smooth
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Grease two cookie sheets
Spoon out batter on each sheet with 2 inches to 3 inches diameter
Add blueberries or chocolate chips (optional)
Bake for 25 minutes or until cookies are golden brown on underside
Serve with fresh fruit, syrup or powdered sugar.
Published May 08, 2019