Michelle is a stay-at-home parent to a five-year-old boy, three-year-old girl, two dogs, and one husband. She lives in Houston.
Do you long for the day when your children can help more in the kitchen? Do you find that your kids are almost done eating by the time you finally sit down to eat?
I’m trying to be better about getting my kids involved in the kitchen. It is so much easier to just do it myself. Then I remember the wise words of Daniel Tiger. The toddler life coach (and sometimes grown-up life coach), has an episode where the kids try to help the grown-ups. The theme of the show is “Everyone is big enough to do something”. You can always find something they can do, even if it slows you down. It’s worth taking the time to let them help when they are little so they continue when they are older. Click here if you need some Daniel Tiger inspiration.
I wish I had started earlier with my almost six-year-old, because now it can be a challenge. I did discover though that he enjoys preparing his meals. There are three basic kitchen skills I am working on with him. These are things that I have done so long I don’t even think about anymore, but for a young child, they have to be taught. You can start these skills with a child as young as four years old:
1. Using a microwave
Let your kid help when you are microwaving things. Let them put the item in. Help them push the buttons. The microwave provides great real-life lessons for concepts of time and numbers.
2. Using the toaster
Teach how to put the bread in and push the button down. Help them put on the setting on your toaster so it comes out just right.
3. Using a butter knife
You can practice at first with a play knife and playdoh. Encourage your child to cut their food when they can do it with a butter knife. I know it is so much easier to do it for them but try to resist the urge! Here is a great short video that shows how to teach a child to use a butter knife:
These skills are still a work in progress for my five-year-old. Here are three of his favorite meals to prepare himself in the microwave, with supervision, of course.
Toasted Grilled Cheese Sandwich
This is something my mother taught me when I was a kid. Pared with soup, especially Campbell's clam chowder, was one of my favorite meals.
- 2 slices of bread
- 2 - 4 Cheese slices
- Optional - mayonnaise
- Toast the bread
- Optional - spread mayonnaise on top of toast. This is in place of the butter you would use when making it on the stove. My son prefers it without.
- Place cheese on top of one of the toasted slices. Microwave for 30 seconds.
- Put other toasted bread on top and slice
Variations: Make it a tuna or ham and cheese melt!
English Muffin Pizza
Like every other kid on the planet, my kids love pizza. I get the whole wheat english muffins so it's healthier. Plus my older one can do it himself! It’s a win-win situation!
- English muffin
- Pizza sauce
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Optional - any topping you want! My kids like pepperoni. Maybe you’ll be lucky and your kids will want vegetables.
- Toast the english muffin
- Spread pizza sauce on top
- Sprinkle cheese on top
- Place any other toppings on top
- Microwave for 45 seconds
Microwave Cheese Quesadillas
This is probably my son’s favorite thing to make. I use whole wheat flour tortillas to make it healthier. My kids love all things cheesy so these are always a hit.
- Soft tortilla
- Mexican shredded cheese
1. Lay the tortilla flat on a plate.
2. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top of the tortilla.
3. Microwave for 30 seconds.
4. Fold the tortilla in half. Slice into pieces if preferred.
Variations: Add beans, salsa, and/or chicken to the inside.
I hope this helped you with ideas on how to get your children more involved in the kitchen. I’m still working on it. On those days where it seems more of a mess then it’s worth just envision yourself ten years from now: Feet up, relaxing, while junior is busy making dinner for the family instead of you!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Michelle Hovorka Oxner