Friday, March 4, 2016

Toddler Style "Cooking"

Does anyone else run into the problem of their little kids wanting to "help" while you cook - usually at the most inconvenient time?  Like, you are trying to hurry and put that crock-pot dinner together so you can get it to your neighbors in time?  And little hands are just not welcome at the moment?  I don't know about you, but there's NO WAY I'd give out food that my kids have touched (and usually coughed and sneezed in and...)!  Usually I'm lucky if I still eat it!  While I LOVE my kids, I really don't LOVE their "help" in the kitchen.  But I realize, they learn by "helping."

So I've come up with a great little compromise (that is also useful as a we-need-something-to-do-besides-watch-tv-all-day):  I hand them all their own equipment, including their own food so they can "cook" away!  Their grimy little hands never touch what I'm working on, yet they are entertained and right there with me, thinking they are helping me cook!  It's fantastic!

Now, this doesn't mean that I'm handing them eggs, butter, flour and the like!  Heaven's no!  What do you think I am, crazy (that's a rhetorical question so please don't answer!)?  I have a special can just for them full of a variety of dry beans, chickpeas, rice, lentils and pop corn kernels.  It's full of color,  texture, sizes and they LOVE it! (CAUTION: there are small choking pieces so if you have a baby that will put anything in their mouth - I do NOT recommend this activity!)

The kids spend hours doing just this:
We have some play pots and pans but I don't stop there.  I hand them small measuring spoons and cups, bowls, muffin tins, spatulas, whatever!  But nothing that I am CURRENTLY using!  This is for their hands only :).

Usually the older kids even become intrigued and have their own fun by sorting out all the various items:

Here's my spiffy recycled #10 can that I store it all in when not in use.

Now, a disclaimer...this will get all over the floor, I guarantee!  So be prepared to sweep the floor afterward.  I usually salvage any of the bean concoction mix that has remained on the table but once it lands on the floor, it's garbage.  I've had this same can of beans for several years now and haven't had to replenish much so it really isn't a huge waste of food.  If push came to shove, we still could eat it in an emergency ;).

Anyway, so put some of that food storage to good use and let your kids spend an hour or two "helping" you cook!

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