I think it is very important that we teach children to cook. My children start learning when they are two years old how to help mom in the kitchen. I give them things to pour and stir and scoop.
As they get older, they start learning how to make their own sandwiches and blend their own smoothies. Then they learn how to chop things and start food in the crockpot.
Once they have the basic cooking skills mastered, they graduate to the point that I give them a recipe and walk away knowing they can handle it completely by themselves. They reach this stage at different ages mostly based on how much time I have spent training them. Brett was doing it by 8 and Greyden at 10 just to give you two examples.
One thing that I found early in my mothering career is that most recipes are difficult for children to follow. So every time we add a new recipe to our meal notebook, I rewrite it in a kid-friendly format such as this split pea soup recipe.
What makes a recipe kid-friendly?
Kid-friendly recipes are in a good order. Some recipes are not very logically laid out. Write your recipe in a step-by-step manner that your child will actually follow.
Kid-friendly recipes add clean up instructions. Be sure to remind children in the recipe when to wash their hands and when to clean up. As children get older, they may not need this, but it helps build good cooking habits by writing it directly in the recipe.
Kid-friendly recipes list quantities with the directions. Some recipes list quantities in one place and directions in another. This can get confusing for your child, especially if their reading comprehension is not fully developed.
Kid-friendly recipes use a big font and lots of white space. Don’t make your child struggle because all the words are crammed together. Spread the directions out over a full sheet of paper.
Kid-friendly recipes use appropriate terms. Only use terms that your child has been taught and remembers. If they don’t know what “diced” means, either teach it to them or explain it in the recipe.
Kid-friendly recipes add “obvious” steps. When our children are learning to cook, they may miss the obvious steps. Put them in the recipe so they don’t feel ignorant later for not paying attention and figuring that out.
Once I have a kid friendly recipe, I print it out and put it in a sheet protector. I usually just do one recipe per sheet protector and don’t have one on the front and another on the back. This way, if I have something with a lot of steps I don’t feel the need to cram it onto a single sheet.
When my child is ready to make a meal, they remove the recipe (with its sheet protector) and they find a dry erase marker. We keep many of these in the kitchen at all times. As they are making the recipe, they use the dry erase marker to check off the steps they have completed.
If they need help keeping track of quantities, they can also count it on the recipe with the marker (e.g. if a recipe calls for 4 cups of flour they can do hash marks counting each one they put in). I don’t require them to do this, but some of them feel more comfortable this way.
When the recipe is made, just wipe the dry erase marker off the sheet protector and put it back in your meal notebook so it is ready the next time it is needed.
Are there any other requirements you would add for a kid-friendly recipe?