Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cook with Your Kids On A Regular Basis...

Ahhh another school year begins... Just as my kids started a new grade last week, the same day Susan's Savour-It! also reached a happy milestone!! THANK YOU readers, home cooks and foodies for your support and friendship! I hope you continue to find inspiration in my posts to cook with your family & friends and create strong memories around the kitchen and table! Here's to the culinary spirit, cookin' up somethin' good and enjoying good food together!

My kids are getting older-- the twins are now seven and the little one will be turning five. Although they have helped me in the kitchen, it was sporadic and during my convenience. Along with doing homework, I've made it a personal mission to have them cooking with me when possible every night, setting up tasks for them to do. Cooking is a necessary life skill, a rite of passage and opens up a whole world of eating healthily and discovering new tastes. Starting them young is key. Determined to get my kids more active in preparing meals I was beyond thrilled to see that IKEA has created a new child-friendly knife and peeler set- SMABIT. The knife is perfect for small hands, rounded at the tip, sharp that cuts and not scary-- for us! And it comes with a handy protective sleeve. The core of cooking is the knife-- get your kids in the kitchen early, teach them how to use it and they will never lose it!

Cutting broccoli and cauliflower for oven-roasting.

My kids have been using paring knives with my close supervision and I always made sure they sat far apart if all were participating cutting and slicing. Too sharp for abrupt movements. They've handled butter knives but they are not sharp at all, and it creates this see saw motion which crushes instead of cuts generating frustration and boredom. With the recent IKEA SMABIT knife I've been more bound to invite them to cut produce and not fear for their safety. 

Could the knife get kids to like vegetables? I would say yes! A knife could give kids a sense of control and reduce their fear. The more kids control the food preparation, the more likely they will experience a wide variety of foods without fear and help them to ultimately eat better with a broad range of nutrition. And to me, most importantly lessen the chance of them turning into a picky eater.

If you are still worried with your kids at the knife, allow them to help wash and peel veggies, and do other tasks that do not involve cutting.

My kids wrapping wonton dumplings.

With some supervision, my older twins since six have been stir-fry and sauteing over the stove!

Assembling customized sandwiches is an easy task that is also a fun DIY.

My four year old loves helping out to make breakfast!

Just as it is important to learn to cook, it is equally imperative to teach table etiquette such as setting up the table, clearing up empty plates, wrapping and storing leftovers as well as washing and putting dishes away! Helping from start to finish gives kids the picture of what is involved in the whole process of meal preparation, eating and cleaning up. It naturally teaches organization and tidying skills that will translate to their day-to-day habits :). 

Five rules for parents when cooking with kids (from the kids)-- courtesy of IKEA:

1|  Don't correct us all the time. That just makes us want to run out and never come back.
2|  Don't get mad is we fail. A smart guy once said "we learn from our mistakes." 
3|  Don't rush us. Learning takes time; try to relax for a minute.
4|  It's ok to get tired or lose interest.
5|  And what's wrong with being messy. It's actually more fun that way.


Jamie Oliver shares in a recent article hands-on tips to get your kids involved in the kitchen and cooking with you. For the original article see here.

I wholeheartedly believe that cooking is up there as one of the 
most valuable skills you can teach a child, right alongside reading and writing.

It’s incredibly important to get your kids excited about food, where it comes from and how to cook it, from as early an age as possible – a kitchen-savvy kid is going to be a much healthier, happier one in the long run. Here are some great tips to keep in mind:


Investing the time when they’re young and impressionable is absolutely key. Expose them to the widest variety of nutritious foods you can – the more experience and food knowledge they can gather, the more confident they’ll become, meaning they’ll be curious and try new things.


It’s always good to start small, with jobs such as picking herbs, spinning salad leaves dry, mixing and measuring, and giving kids decisions to make to empower them. You can then progress to elements of a recipe, then go on to slightly trickier techniques over time. The more they cook, the better they’ll get – my older girls are quite happy to have a go at whole recipes these days, whereas the younger two are excited to help out with random bits and pieces. It’s just important to spark that hunger to want to be involved.


We’re all slaves to a busy lifestyle, so make sure you put time aside to cook together – keep simple jobs for weekdays, then spend a bit more time at the weekend cooking something more involved. Batch cooking is a great option, as the kids will love the fact that they’ve contributed towards meals on other days (this is especially good if you’ve got any fussy eaters on your hands). Getting them to help you whiz up smoothies, or batches of porridge mix for their breakfasts, is also a quick and effective way to involve them in simple tasks.


Get your kids to taste, smell and touch the ingredients you are cooking with- the more knowledge you can share with them the better. Explain that it is OK not to like everything, but its good to try everything and definitely lead by example- if you are doing something, the chances are hey will give it a go too.

Preparing meals can be educational; children quickly pick up new skills when they're having fun- they'll learn about weighing, measuring, mixing, spreading, pouring, chopping, organizing and following instructions, as well as finding out how ingredients work together. This translates to everyday life- trying a new recipe is not unlike learning math or problem-solving skills. It takes persistence, resilience, patience and creative thinking- life lessons that is worthy of a messy kitchen!

Won't you invite your child(ren) in the kitchen to give you a hand and to learn something new together?

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