Thanksgiving is just around the corner and families are spending much of their time cooking and the best helpers are right at their waist! There is no better learning and bonding experience than cooking with your kids.

Benefits:

There are numerous benefits of children cooking in the kitchen that ranges from education benefits to psychological effects. Here are some from The Growing Room’s Kids in the Kitchen: The Benefits of Cooking with Children:

  • Less Picky Eaters: A study has indicated that kids who physical handle the food that they will eat show less food fear and have a greater acceptance of eating a variety of foods.
  • Kids Grow in Confidence: They feel a sense of accomplishment when they have completed a task, especially if they have seen you do this before. It makes them feel grown up and teaches them responsibility.
  • Learn Science and Math: The kitchen is a literal lab! They can weigh, measure, and watch ingredients boil, freeze, melt! Following a recipe encourages independence and promotes problem solving. This also gives them a sense on what it feels like to follow direction.

How They Can Help:

Depending on how young you kid is, they can help in many ways in the kitchen. Here is a few ways they can assist based on age with the help of The Kitchn’s How Young Kids Can Help in the Kitchen.

2 to 3-year-old: At this age, they are still new to the kitchen so it is important to start them off small and simple, keeping them away from any dangerous appliances.

  • Rinse fruits and vegetables
  • Drying vegetables and fruits
  • Scrub potatoes
  • Sprinkle salt or herbs
  • Stir batter in a bowl
  • Brushing oil with a pastry brush

4 to 5-year-old: Here you can start giving more responsibilities to your children. Start them off with simple but gradually more important tasks. Once they have mastered these skills, they can move on.

  • Cut soft foods with a plastic knife
  • Roll out and knead dough
  • Crack an egg (practice makes perfect!)
  • Measure and level dry ingredients
  • Juice limes and lemons

6 to 9-year-old: Kids a this point have started refining their motor skills and can begin the more “dangerous” and “adult” tasks in the kitchen. It is still important to look over them as they help you cook but parents are can start incorporating kids into the cooking process more and more.

  • Use a small paring knife (with supervision!)
  • Cook with a parent on the stove
  • Use a can opener
  • Peel fruits and vegetables
  • Scoop batter into muffin cups
  • Slice bread
  • Skewer foods

Cooking Games for Kids:

  • Napkin folding: Challenge your kids into seeing who can fold their napkins to look like an animal, or who can make it the prettiest, or in different styles. Set a timer and once the buzzer goes off, count who has the most.
  • Measure Up: Take away the measuring cups, spoons, and devices and take out a bowl. Gather the ingredients needed for a recipe and compete with your child to see who has the best estimation skill by filling the bowl with what they think is the correct amount of ingredient. Then take out the measuring devices and see whose the closets!
  • Recipe Scramble: scramble up the recipe and see who can put the steps back together in the correct order!

Cooking with a Dog:

When cooking, our pets saunter in and we cannot resist dropping a piece of turkey or a carrot here and there. Here are tips on what you should drop and not drop on the floor following Union Lake Veterinary Hospital and Pet Services’s Guide to Home Cooking for Dogs https://unionlakeveterinaryhospital.com/blog/a-beginners-guide-to-home-cooking-for-dogs

Protein:

  • Beef, Turkey, Chicken, Lam, Pork, and Shrimp (fully cooked with shell removed), Tuna, and Eggs (cooked or raw but in moderation)
  • Avoid meats that are too fatty or rich, or pieces that are covered in garlic or seasoning. Meats like ham, which are high in sodium and fat, should be fed in moderation

Fruits and Vegetables:

  • Carrots, Strawberries, apples, Green beans, Spinach, Peas, Celery, Cucumbers; almost any fruit or vegetable is okay to feed!

Ingredients to avoid:

  • Alcohol, almonds, avocados, chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, garlic grapes, onions, macadamia nuts, raisins, and raw yeast dough.

If you are feeding any new ingredient to your pets, make sure to monitor them for any allergic reactions. This list does not cover all foods that you can and cannot feed your dog. Please consult your vet if you are unsure about any ingredient.

Sometimes our first instinct when hearing there are kids in the kitchen is the dread of cleaning up after them. But with a little patience and instructions, kids can become mini chefs and spend some quality time with their parents and their pets. Happy Thanksgiving!