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Helping with Meals
At age 4 and up (or younger if you think they are capable), children can "help" you make dinner (or another meal if you prefer). If they are younger, you could just have them stand on a stool next to you to see what you're doing. Little ones can help dump in ingredients that you measure for them and help stir. Just be careful with little ones around open flames--have the older, trained children do that work or do it yourself. Be sure to talk to your children as you prepare a meal. Tell them what you are doing, and how much of which ingredient you need as you measure it out.
If you have more than one child to teach kitchen skills to, let them have an assigned day to help you in the kitchen, so they can "take turns". Most children will love to help you in the kitchen. Teach them that it is an act of love to cook delicious, healthy meals for the family. They also need to know it is a necessity for the family to eat! Be cheerful in your instruction.
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Another favorite thing for children to do to help out in the kitchen is to choose meals. The children can each have a week in which they choose one breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert that they would like to have. For younger ones, you can give them a smaller variety of meals to choose from. My older ones like to go through the cookbooks and pick meals they would like to try. I then see if we can buy the ingredients and if I have the proper kitchen equipment to make it. If so then I make a note of what they would like and write down all the ingredients we will need to buy. We do this a day or two before the weekly shopping trip. They love this. I'm sure your children will too. This teaches them meal planning and also gives you a break with having to plan a meal for every day during the week.
Here is one of the meals my eldest daughter picked. She chose homemade pizza with broccoli and tomatoes. At first it sounded quite strange, but she reminded me that in the past we have had store-bought pizza with these toppings before. I asked her if she would like to add a meat and we did. You can make little suggestions like this while still letting your children be creative and learn about cooking. If they come up with something you know will be unappetizing for the entire family, then gently explain this to them.
Here is the pizza sauce getting put together:
|Making the pizza sauce|
Chopping up the fresh basil for the pizza sauce:
This pizza has whole wheat dough that has been soaked in a mixture of water and yogurt. You can find the recipe in Nourishing Traditions
|The dough after soaking|
The sauce with the basil added, after being cooked down:
Here I had rolled out the pizza crust in the pizza pan. This recipe can actually make two pizzas, but I just made one larger one this time.
Here is the pizza with its toppings:
The finished pizza:
I also picked a Caesar salad to help round out the meal:
Children get excited to eat their favorite meals or try new things they have been wanting to try. When it is the day to prepare their meals, an extra special treat and training opportunity comes to allow them to help you cook their chosen meals. You don't have to do all of one child's meals on the same day, but you can spread it out as needed.
I have three different cookbooks (so far) that I allow the children to choose from to ensure that what we eat is not only delicious, but healthful as well. These cookbooks feature traditional methods of cooking and will bring life to your family:
The Makers Diet Shopper's Guide
The Diet Rebel's Cookbook
Remember, you are training your daughters to one day be keepers at home, and cooking is a life skill that your sons will need to learn as well.