5 Tips For Letting Your Kids Cook


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A crazy thing happened in my home earlier this month. Something that hasn’t happened before and I would not have predicted would happen. My kids cooked for the whole family, and the food was good.

Let that sink in for a minute Moms and Dads.

Your kids, cooking food that you will actually eat…. I know, right?

Here is how it all went down. I was talking to my boys about what they should get for their Mom for Mothers Day and also thinking about the things she would appreciate most. What stood out most in my memory, that she appreciated the most, were the experiences rather than the stuff. To be fair, she would have been happy and excited to receive anything from her children, but an actual experience over stuff might be even better. I made the suggestion and my boys minds immediately started to work. They talked about things they wanted to cook for their Mother, and probably that they wanted to eat as well, and we had a menu ironed out in no time.

With the help of a couple of Mom’s cookbooks, the boys made homemade macaroni and cheese (not blue box!), fruit salad, and some chocolate lava cupcakes. I chipped in and threw together a green salad. How did we make it a reality?

Well here are 5 tips that helped us, that should allow you to do the same thing.

1) Proper planning: Deciding to cook dinner for Mom or Dad is something that you can make happen quickly, but it helps if you have at least 24 hours to throw it together. You will find that one of your kids might be ready with an idea instantly, while another might need some time to really think about it.

2) Recipes that are actually doable with stuff you actually have: I’m cheap, so it’s important that we don’t need to spend a hundred bucks at the grocery just to put this meal together. I’m fine with a shopping trip to add some ingredients we are short on, but it needs to be within a budget. This means there might be a couple ideas that your kid thinks sound amazing, but that you know will really run up a big bill.

See Also: 18 Great Recipes to Cook with your kids

It’s also important to keep in mind that your kid just can’t make everything they want to make. When my 12 year old wanted to do a chocolate soufflĂ© I had to shoot it down because we don’t even own a soufflĂ© dish, not to mention I had no clue about how to make one, even with a solid recipe in hand.

3) Patience times infinity: If you’re great in the kitchen, or a challenged Dad like I am, you have to have patience with your kids. I’m pretty horrible at this sometimes but this is just another thing we need to let them fail and succeed at. Which leads to tip number four.

4) Helping out enough, but not too much: You have to be in the kitchen with your kids when they cook for the most part. (Although my 15 year old did crush some awesome mac & cheese on his own.) But you know you need to supervise most if not all of the time. So help out, but don’t do it for them. My 8 year old made a fruit salad, and did a great job, but I really wanted to cut those strawberries for him because he wasn’t doing it ‘right.’ It turns out he did an awesome job, I was just being a micro manager.

5) Praise builds confidence: No matter what, when the meal is done, it will be fantastic. I can’t promise you the same results I experienced with my kids, but I can promise you that if you encourage the work they did, they will gain confidence and be ready to try it again in the future.

Have you ever let your kids cook for you? How did it turn out?


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