Many of us have fond memories of helping our parents or grandparents in the kitchen as children. This is how family recipes get passed on from generation to generation. Getting your children involved in the dinner plans is a great way to continue this tradition, spend time with your kids and teach them about nutrition all at the same time. It's also important that they learn some basic kitchen skills for later in life. Children love being involved in grown-up activities, so they'll likely enjoy helping you prepare dinner. But having a few tricks up your sleeve can't hurt, so try some of these kid-friendly kitchen tools to pique their interest in the culinary arts.
5: Non-skid Mixing Bowls
One thing you can count on if your kids are helping you in the kitchen is a mess. Children aren't as skilled with kitchen tools, and inevitably, something gets knocked over. In order to preserve your sanity and the cleanliness of your home, do yourself a favor and buy some non-skid mixing bowls. Baking is a fun way to start your kids out in the kitchen, and non-skid bowls are essential if you want to keep your ingredients on the counter where they should be. These bowls are typically made from plastic with rubberized bottoms to keep them firmly in place. They aren't specialty items for kids, so you can find them in any cooking store as well as in your average big box retailer that carries kitchen goods. Start off with a set of two or three bowls you know you'll use often and add from there, or you buy them in a collection of different sizes.
4: Silicone Utensils
One of the tricks to get your kids interested in cooking is to make it fun for them. There aren't many better ways to do this than to buy them some kid-friendly utensils. There are all kinds of fun silicone kitchen utensils available now in culinary shops and at online retailers. Pick out a mixing spoon with a dinosaur handle or a basting brush shaped like a teddy bear, and watch your kid's eyes grow wide with delight. Spatulas, sifters, cake spreaders, egg beaters, you name it -- there's a fun version of just about any kitchen utensil you can think of. And not only will they inspire your children to get involved in the kitchen, but the soft silicone edges are safe for their tender hands.
3: Chef Hat and Apron
If there's one thing kids like to do, it's play dress-up. Children don't need Halloween as an excuse to try out a crazy outfit and parade it around the house. To lure them into the kitchen, buy them a kid-sized apron just like mom or dad has. Children's' aprons are typically made with bright colors and kid-friendly prints, so it won't be too hard to get them into one. You can even go the extra mile and purchase a pint-sized chef's hat as well. Teach your kids the history of the chef's hat -- which is also called a toque -- and how experienced chefs get more pleats as they progress. A master chef wears a toque with 100 pleats, but you can give your kids culinary goals and buy them a fancier hat each time they meet one.
2: Baking Kit
Baking is a great place to start your kids out in the kitchen. Just look at the popularity of the "Easy-bake oven." One reason why kids love baking is that it's kind of magical -- you combine all these ingredients into a gooey mix, pop it into the oven, and it comes out as something altogether different. Not to mention delicious. So while you may be able to teach your kid how to roll sushi, they probably won't enjoy the fruits of their labor as much as a sweet muffin or cake. Culinary shops and online stores sell kid-friendly baking kits that are perfect to start them on their way. These kits are all scaled down for kid-sized hands. The bowls and mixing spoons are all smaller, as are the tiny oven mitts and potholders. Using a kid's baking kit is a surefire way to maintain their interest in the project.
1: Shape Cutters and Molds
Many of the ideas on this list are about making cooking and baking more fun for your children. Shape cutters and molds are no exception. Why just bake a pre-rolled cookie when you can cut it into the shape of a star or a heart? If you have little boys, try out some sports-themed shapes and bake some football cookies for Dad. These cutters can also be used to cut sandwiches for their school lunch or even some of the firmer vegetables. If you're going the cake route, buy some cake pans that are more interesting to your kids than the standard square and round ones and watch them get more involved in the process. Many of these molds can also be used for making fun-shaped Jell-o.