10 Tried and True Suggestions to Make Cooking with Kids Fun…. (For Everyone!)

The kitchen is a terrific place to bond with children. Whether you’re planning to rustle up breakfast, or decorating cookies, you can create memories that will last a lifetime. Here are 10 super suggestions for making cooking with the kids fun for everyone!

Safety First– Kids need to understand the importance of safety. Teach young children to stay away from the hot stove, sharp knives, and other kitchen dangers. Every child loves to pour the milk and add the flour, so take a couple extra seconds to turn off the mixer and let them! Even better, do the mixing by hand when you can! That leads right into….

Cootie Protection– Good hygiene is an essential kitchen lesson to teach your kids. Make sure they understand the importance of washing their hands often, sneezing away from food, and to use clean dish cloths and cutting surfaces to avoid cross contamination. If you do it they will too!

The Simpler the Better– Kids love to dig in with both hands. Choose recipes that are easy, hand formed cookies are a fun start that keeps them involved.

Dont Watch the Clock– If the recipe says it takes 20 minutes to prepare count on 40 with kids in the kitchen. Plan accordingly and keep it fun. You and your child will have a much more enjoyable experience if you are not in a hurry, and the extra time is well spent when you consider those priceless memories and life skills!

Relax and have fun– There WILL BE funny shaped cakes, maybe a few egg shells in the batter. Take it all to heart and give praise often, even if it’s not perfect. This is a great time to share your own memories or even a baking secret. Shhhhhh!

Its Not Just About Cooking – The kitchen makes a fantastic classroom for kids. Learning to read and follow written directions is a very important lesson. Take advantage of showing them how fractions work in a recipe, how many minutes are in an hour when baking a cake, or the science in making a souffle rise, the educational opportunities are endless.

How to Answer Why? We all know thats a childs favorite question. Even if they don’t ask it you can provide all kinds of useful information. Explain why you need yeast in the bread, how baking soda works in cakes and cookies, and the differences between similar items like granulated sugar and confectioners sugar. Give them an opportunity to see, touch, and smell all the ingredients you are using in the recipe.

Food Safety – It’s important to teach kids how to care for food. Make kids aware of the bacteria that can live in food if not treated properly. Remind them that hot food should be kept hot (over 140 F) and cold food cold (under 40 F).

It’s OK to Use a Mix- The attention span of small children can be short to say the least. Using a mix can take less time, leave less room for error, and create less of a mess. Yes, this is one of those times where less can be more! Keep mixes handy for when time is of the essence. So what if its not made from scratch it was still time well spent!

Clean Up – Teach children that cleaning up is all part of the process. Do it as you go to keep a safe and sanitary cooking area. Remind them that no good chef leaves the kitchen until its clean.

Busting bad culinary habits

Urban legends are a funny thing. Often there’s some kernel of truth in the situation but far from the whole truth. Not knowing how to properly clean your kitchen or your food is a recipe that breeds illness. And while we’re 100 percent behind learning from mistakes, no one should be sick because of them!

This month is National Food Safety Education Month! We’re going to celebrate by busting some common kitchen myths thanks to fightbac.org, a website by Partnership for Food Safety Education.

Myth: I don’t need to wash my produce if I’m going to peel it.

False. All fruits and veggies should be run under water before eating, cutting or cooking. That may sound strange but the reality is, you can transfer bacteria from a peel to the part you, or your little one, eat. Be sure to wash under cool, running water. Blot delicate produce, like lettuce or grapes, with a clean cloth or paper towel. Firm-skin fruits and veggies should be washed in running tap water or scrubbed with a clean produce brush. Never, ever, use detergent, bleach or soap! Think about it, would you want a soapy taste to dinner? Plus, those cleaning tools weren’t made for eating.

Myth: The stand time recommended for microwave food is optional; It’s just a guide so you won’t burn yourself.

False. Actually, stand time is a cooling off period that is rather important. Be patient. Normally it’s only a couple minutes anyway. But waiting will do more than save your tongue from being burned. It also keeps the food at a safe temperature. Read and follow directions closely, know how strong your microwave is and use a food thermometer to be sure the food is safe for you and your little ones to eat.

Myth: Leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad.

False. Clearly, you should not be eating smelly food. If you can tell something’s not right, it isn’t. Unfortunately, food is often bad long before it smells. Different types of bacteria affect food differently. The type that makes you sick doesn’t result in the smells that you may rely on when deciding to serve a dish. Rather than question it, freeze or trash leftovers within 3 to 4 days. Never risk it, if you don’t know how old the food is, throw it away! Also, get better at labeling to avoid the questions in the future.

Myth: I use bleach and water to clean my countertops and the more bleach I use the more bacteria I kill.

False. More bleach does not make for a cleaner kitchen. Using too much bleach can actually be a bad thing. The cleaning agent is a chemical and truly not meant for anyone to eat. It always comes back to following directions. Use 1 tablespoon of unscented liquid bleach per gallon of water. Flood the countertop with the solution, allow it to sit for a few minutes, then pay it dry or let it air dry. Anything left over can be stored, tightly covered for about a week. After that, the bleach won’t be effective.