I remember visiting my daughter’s preschool class a few years ago and being shocked at seeing children using tongs to put fruit into their plates and pouring their own milk from a jug into their cups. I certainly wasn’t allowing my then three and a half year old daughter to do that at home! That day was an eye opener for me, as it made me realize that children are so much more independent than what we think!
After that day, I slowly began to give my daughter more freedom to be independent at home in the kitchen. I have to mention though, there were times where I was feeling scared and nervous for her to try certain things on her own, like use a knife for the first time (yikes!), but I got over that fear once I saw how comfortable she was. Now, I know what you may be thinking, “At what age did you allow your daughter to use the knife?” Don’t worry, I will answer this question below as well as give you some tips on how you can help your child feel more independent in the kitchen too!
BONUS! Read to the end to find out what my daughter’s favorite recipe is at the moment!
Tips to help your children become more independent in the kitchen
Before I give out my tips, I want to remind you that these recommendations are based off of what I did with my own children as a mama of four kiddos, so this isn’t professional advice. Please do keep this in mind as you read the rest of this blog post.
1. Start off by making sure your children see you cook and create a positive kitchen environment. Don’t get angry if there are spills or if a dish doesn’t turn out the exact way you wanted. It’s important to note that if your children see you cook with a positive attitude, they will most likely adapt that same attitude too!
2. Get your children their own supplies and involve them in picking them out. For instance, let your children pick out their own apron, or let them customize one using fabric paint.
3. Explore different recipes together as a family and come up with a menu together for the week. This makes children feel like they have a say in what they get to eat and feel more involved when it comes to decision making within the household.
4. Every child is different, but usually around the ages of 3-5 years old is when your child can do simple tasks like mixing batters, adding in seasoning, getting out the ingredients from the pantry or refrigerator, and so on. One of the first tasks I let my children do in the kitchen is peel garlic with me; they felt so proud when they were able to do this! By the way, they were super excited to peel garlic initially, but now not so much haha!
5. Let your children decide what they can add to the family meal. For instance, ask them if they want to add cheese to the omelette, what veggies do they want in the stir fry, what side dish would they like served with rice and ect.
6. Now for the big question, at what age do you give your children the knife to chop foods? Again, there is no specific age, as each child is unique, but I would highly suggest to make this a gradual process rather than just give your children a knife one day. How exactly do you do this? When children are around 5-7 years old, let them use a plastic serrated knife to spread jam on their bread and to cut their own food.
Usually around the age of 9-10 years old, you can give children a metal knife to use. Make sure to go over the safety rules of using a knife and supervise the first few times they do use a knife to ensure safety. Remember, you know your child best, so don’t rush your child.
7. Once children are ready and feel comfortable with the knife, you can cook meals together as a family and have children help with the prep by letting them chop vegetables.
8. Finally, allow children to cook their first meal! I know this may seem a bit scary for you as a parent, but you have to be able to trust your children in the kitchen and know that they have the skills to cook their first meal. I would say the appropriate age for this is around 12 years old, but for some children it may be younger or older.
For my daughter, she started off by learning how to cook scrambled eggs a few years ago (she was about 9 years old at this time), as I thought this was the easiest dish for her to learn.
For her first main dinner dish, she chose to cook her all-time FAVORITE which is Creamy Garlic Chicken Pasta! If she could eat this every single day, she probably wouldn’t complain about it- that’s how much she loves it!
I love this recipe for children because it’s made in one pot, has minimum ingredients, and is delicious! Of course, I wouldn’t mention my daughter’s favorite dish and NOT give you all the recipe- don’t worry, I got you! Check out the recipe below:
One Pot Creamy Garlic Chicken Pasta:
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 chicken breast, cut into small pieces
– 1 tsp garlic powder
-3 cups full fat milk
-1 package of dry pasta (187 grams)
-½ cup parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper to taste
***For the chicken in this recipe, we used Mina Halal chicken breast. Mina Halal chicken is Zabeeha by hand and verified by the HMA. Mina sells only the finest chicken that is fresh and of the finest quality. Check out their website to find out where you can purchase Mina Halal in your city. The Mina Halal website also has an array of different recipes, do check it out!
1. Add the olive oil in a pan and saute the chicken with the garlic powder until the chicken is cooked through.
2. Next, pour in the milk and give the mixture a good stir.
3. Once the mixture comes to a boil, put in the noodles and stir often to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Turn down the heat to medium-low and put the lid on the pot.
4. After the noodles are al dente, add in the parmesan cheese as well as the salt and pepper.
5. Stir everything together until the cheese melts and serve right away! Enjoy!
A huge thank you to Mina Halal for sponsoring this post, I only work with companies that products my family and I use, and I’m proud to say we have been using Mina Halal products for years now! Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.