It’s been a long day at work. The kids are hungry. You’re hungry. And, every type of food item you could possibly whip up into a meal needs some prep. No frozen pizza or tacos in a box tonight. It’s already late, and you’re thinking dinner won’t be ready for at least an hour or more. But wait! Perhaps you’re overlooking something, SuperMom (or SuperDad): what about those lovely children of yours? If they’re old enough to eat on their own, and old enough to complain about being hungry, they’re sure old enough to enter the ranks of your neighborhood’s master sous chefs. So work with them to get dinner done in record time AND teach them valuable culinary skills in the process!
Don’t Feel BadWe should say that before you start to feel bad about putting your youngins’ to work, realize the vast majority of children will love that you’re asking them to help. Every chef who’s ever been a chef attributes their initial learning and interest to standing at the foot of a loved one who showed them the ropes. And don’t forget to involve your kids in the pre-planning as well when time permits. Bring them shopping, clip coupons, read labels, pick out fruits and vegetables, maybe even have them purchase a few items of their own if they’re earning an allowance. The key is to involve them early and often. Now, put ‘em to work! Most kids who can put a utensil in their mouth can do any of these things:
- Peel: eggs, garlic, corn, shrimp, bananas, oranges, grapefruit
- Tear/Break: herbs, spaghetti, foil, parchment, twine, tape
- Juice: any citrus fruit using a plastic juicer or just simply juice through their fingers (Yeah!)
- Use kitchen accoutrements: pastry brush, whisk, potato masher, pizza cutter, kid-safe lettuce knife
- Mash: mash anything with a fork (bananas, potatoes, egg salad)
- Mix/Stir/Shake: mashed potatoes, cookie dough, salad dressings
- And let’s not forget: measuring, assembling the table, rolling out dough and reading out the recipe to you!