Helpful Little Hands

How Can the Littles be Helpful in the Kitchen and Why It is Important!

The process of cooking is just as important as the end result.  Cooking and prepping can be an amazing family affair and there are so many ways the littles can be involved and helpful.  Yes, it will take some extra patience on your part, but the rewards are worth it!  Any age child can be involved and enjoy the process too!  In the kitchen, children learn about math, they can use their fine motor skills and finger muscles to grab small objects, they can learn how to be self-sufficient from a young age, it builds confidence when children are able to start and finish a task and it allows them to be prepared for what is on the table.  Another great reason I enjoy having our kids in the kitchen is to help them learn about tradition and different cultures.  I allows me to pass on traditions and customs that were once passed on to me.  This way, they can enjoy holidays and the meaning behind much of what we do.
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Food prepping is a great way to start the process.  Kids are great at stirring, filling jars, measuring, combining ingredients, getting ingredients from the pantry, putting ingredients away and in order and of course tasting along the way too!  I have noticed how excited my children are to spend undivided time with me in the kitchen doing something productive and with an end result they can enjoy and visually appreciate.  There is a sense of accomplishment and pride in what they have created!
Like adults, children who learn how to cook and the importance of making meals, tend to then eat more healthfully in the future.  They learn about what goes into their foods, how much sugar is added, what fresh ingredients taste like compared to packaged and overall how to eat fresh, whole foods!  So, what are some ways to get the kids involved?
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1.  Taking them food shopping with you!  Take them to the grocery store and let them pick out and add items to the cart.
2.  Explain different veggies, fruits and fresh foods and let them see, smell and touch (within reason, of course) the food.
3.  Grow a garden!  Kids love to see the seeds and what it turns into come summer time!  Encourage them to help maintain the garden as well!  Even picking a veggie here or there is rewarding!
4.  Let them imagine their own creation and then let it come to life.  If your child wants to make a smoothie with ingredients you would never combine, let her!
5.  Involve the kids in menu planning!  Make a list of favorite dinners!
6.  On special occasion days, let the kids plan the menu.  For example on the first day of school, let the littles plan a special LAST DAY OF SUMMER breakfast!
7.  Ask the kids to assemble snacks and lunch boxes. They love to feel included and I promise, this will cut down on the number of “What’s for dinner, awe yuck”.
8.  Most of all, make it fun and enjoyable!
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I can’t wait to see what the chosen LAST DAY OF SUMMER breakfast will be for tomorrow’s big day!  Happy cooking.

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