Cooking with Kids: Your Questions Answered!
Posted on July 23, 2014
You asked! And we've got answers. Below, Raddish founder, Samantha Barnes, shares tips on getting kids involved in the kitchen.
Raddish Kids Q&A
Q: At what age do you think it's best and most realistic to get kids involved in the kitchen?
A: I really think 3 is a great age to get your kids excited about cooking and preparing food. Three-year-olds can wash veggies, sort ingredients, help you measure liquid ingredients, scoop dry ingredients, scissor-cut herbs, chop apples, and so much more.
Even before 3, kids are curious about how things look and smell and feel. As long as you make the time to let your little chefs explore, (read: not when you are rushing to get dinner ready on a busy night), I really think they are never too little to be a part of food preparation. When my daughter was an infant, I cooked with her in a sling, and described every smell and taste.
But don’t expect too much – at 20 months, my son does a lot more eating and rearranging than anything else. But, he absolutely insists on being part of the action with this big sister. (The FunPod from Luca and Company makes it totally possible!) Of course, the older the child is the more you can expect them to do.
Q: When and how do you introduce proper knife skills to kids?
A: Children as young as two can start "cutting" by simply tearing herbs or lettuce for salads. Cutting tools may be introduced as your child's dexterity develops. Make sure to use the proper utensil: plastic picnic knives, butter knives, and serrated dinner knives work well for young RadKids. Kids’ craft scissors are also a good tool to cut ingredients like herbs, deli meats, cheeses, and veggies. Many children enjoy the Zyliss lettuce knife which mimics the look and feel of a traditional chef's knife without a metal blade.
It’s extremely important to teach your child proper knife technique from the beginning. We like to use a technique called “spider fingers.” For right-handed chefs, have them hold the knife softly in their right hand. To make “spider fingers,” have them tuck the fingertips of their left hand around the food they’re holding. This protects their fingertips and allows the knuckles to be the guide. Don’t let their fingers become a “squid” (flat fingers and palm) as they could accidentally cut themselves. Have your child move the knife gently in a back and forth rocking motion as she chops the ingredient. Don’t try to chop fast or hard. The knife should do the work!
Q: I have two boys - one who LOVES to cook and one who couldn't care less! Do you have any tips for how parents might get kids involved in the kitchen or to engage with food in a positive way, other than just eating?
A: It is definitely true: kids who help prepare food are much more likely to eat what they’ve made. But I think it goes beyond actually cooking – and just getting kids involved with the whole process of “mealtime”. I wonder – does your child like doing the dishes? (Kids LOVE playing with that soapy water!) Will he/she play waiter and take orders and set the table? Or clear the plates? How about a kitchen and fridge scavenger hunt to find all the ingredients? (Or better – take the hunt to the grocery store.) If all that fails, open up your kitchen while you cook and just let him or her read a book, build Legos, do homework, or for younger kids, sort trinkets in muffin tins. Keep them present to observe the sights, smells, and tastes of the kitchen, and maybe one day they’ll jump in.
Raddish is a cooking club for kids! Created with a mission of bringing families together in the kitchen and at the table, our monthly thematic cooking kits take the guesswork out of cooking with kids while creating delicious kitchen memories along the way. Raddish is designed by a team of educators and chefs who believe the kitchen classroom is the tastiest place to learn. Join our membership today!