The biggest influence on my cooking is my mother. From the early days of making peanut butter and banana sandwiches to learning how to slice plantains to using a pressure cooker and now managing a kitchen on my own, mi madre can take 100% credit for teaching me the proper basics and technique.
I suppose her intention wasn’t for me to become a chef, rather a well-seasoned home cook that could whip up dinner on a whim. With 5 kids and a picky husband, she was one with the cocina skills and did (does) it all with tremendous love. She had a method for getting one of my brothers and me excited about cooking, though. There was strategy to getting us involved with her. And, now that I think about it, they worked!
If you want your little ones to get involved in the cooking process, which I think is great for developing independence, confidence, and a much needed life skill, I’ve got some awesome tips for cooking with kids that I recall Mami using on us.
BUY KIDS’ COOKBOOKS
This is key! Kids love books in general so a book full of super-easy recipes they can read and follow will ignite interest. There aren’t many all Spanish or bilingual cookbooks for kids, but there are definitely some English ones out there to start building a mini food library.
GROCERY SHOPPING DATES
Invite the kids to go shopping but have them make the list based on what they like to enjoy (with supervision!). Let them shop with you to see how the process all starts. Take a few minutes during each visit and explain the difference between different foods, like frozen-versus-fresh; brown sugar-versus-white. Those little details and moments will help them understand where it all begins.
Read Related: Nutrition 101: How to Maintain a Healthy Weight for Your Child
PLAYFUL UTENSILS & GADGETS
Even as an adult, I get excited when I see pretty and colorful cooking utensils and tools. It’s almost like trying to pick out which candy from the candy store you want to take home. Measuring spoons and cups, blenders, smaller skillets and pot and cartoonish stove mittens are great stimulators, not to mention essentials. If the kiddos know they have attractive and fun things to use in the kitchen, cooking will quickly become more fun!
Once cooking, let your little ones suggest what to make and how to make it (with direction, of course). Let them feel like the kitchen is their space as much as it is yours. Allowing them to play with ideas and seeing if they work or not has a way of making them want to try it again; either to make it better or differently. In working with kids, I’ve seen tremendous excitement when a dish they suggested making and took the lead in..came out great! It fuels their inner chef and paves the way more cooking!
If there are kids in the house, there’s no reason to keep them out! Get them involved with these simple tricks and soon you’ll find yourself kicking up your legs and sipping on the much needed cafecito! You’ll enjoy their growing skill as much as they do!