Dinnertime sure has changed over the years. It used to be that the family would show up and pass the dish, you’d help yourself, and then you'd pass it to the next person. Little did the kids of long ago know that grinding your spices could take a kitchen and turn it into a culinary playground.
And what do today's children know about dinner, other than the fact that they show up, park themselves at the table, and eat? What do they know of the time it took you to drive to the store, shop, carry in the groceries, cut up the ingredients, stand over the stove, set the table, serve dinner, and wash the dishes?
However, now more than ever, parents are including their children in the process of how food gets to the table and using it to teach opportunities to instill the enjoyment of cooking as well as life skills.
The key to getting these little people to buy into this concept is simple. Make it fun. But how? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Make It a Group Activity
Involve your kiddos from start to finish. Have fun together, and make it taste good. This involves some relearning on the part of the parents, because what tastes good to an adult does not necessarily taste good to a kid. Children don’t typically have adult-sized palates, which means they are not always going to like adult food.
We all have different tastes, so putting what you like in front of the kids isn’t going to cut it. Sometimes kids say they don’t like a certain food because it’s foreign to them. So start by tasting.
How do your kids even know what they like if they haven’t tasted it?
- Begin with putting some kid-friendly food on the table. Peanut butter, bananas, cookies, chicken nuggets (baked is good), pizza, baked fries.
- Get out all the spices in your cupboard and put them on the table.
- Take turns smelling and tasting.
- Sprinkle on different foods.
- Make a yes, maybe, and no-way pile.
Next, go to the movies. Ok, maybe not the movies. Go to the family room and turn on YouTube. Watch some videos on planting.
Find a little corner of the yard or kitchen and plant a kid-friendly garden together. Plant some of the foods you watched in the video - like mint, oregano, basil, and tomatoes. Help the kids care for the plants and when ready, help them harvest.
Bring the plants inside to wash and prepare for meal making. Put the oregano on pizza. The mint can be dipped in chocolate. Grind some cinnamon and add it to hot chocolate. Of course, you don't want to do all the new foods on the same day; one new food at a time might be a good way to do this.
Everyone knows that a favorite family activity during the holidays is baking cookies and decorating them with the kids. You put out the sprinkles and icing and watch the smiles grow. But what if you let them get just as carried away with dinner?
Kid chefs are fashionable - some are even cooking for their entire families. That may not be the norm in your house. So how do you get the kids off the iPad and into the kitchen?
You don’t. You bring the iPad to the kitchen.
- Brainstorm a meal plan
- Look up recipes on the iPad
- Print out the recipe or prop the iPad on the counter for reference
- Make a list of ingredients needed
- Head to the grocery store
- Have the kids help do the shopping
- And don’t forget to stop for ice cream on the way home!
Invest in Paper Towels
You can’t live in a museum if you are cooking with kids. It’s just not possible. Things will spill, run over, smear, burn, splat, and anything else they can dish out. The trick is to clean it right away. So what if things get a little messy? That’s what paper towels are for, so keep some on hand and clean up right away.
Don’t wait until cooking time is over. By then, everyone is tired and it’s like punishing whoever gets elected to clean it up.
Involve Their Friends
Cooking for one isn’t the worst thing in the world - people do it all the time. But remember, you are trying to create a love of cooking, so add some bragging rights to the mix. Kids love to show off their culinary chops. And while you are at it, let their friends cook, too.
Get Some Kid-Friendly Tools
These can include flexible cutting boards, measuring cups, towels, dishcloths, cleaning supplies, and plastic bowls that have rubber stoppers on the base so they can’t slip away.
Don’t give them your favorite wooden spoon or your grandmother’s antique flour sifter. If you keep your personal favorite for yourself and give the kids what they can use without fear, your little chef will be much happier in the kitchen, and so will you.
A colorful chef’s hat would be fun. Or perhaps an apron they can paint themselves. It’s all part of the "cook look," so make sure you take pictures if they want to post online.
Spice It Up
From cinnamon to turmeric, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, spices have health benefits. Not only are they aromatic and delicious on our food, but they also make us feel better. Although these benefits might not mean that much to a young budding chef, the flavor will mean a great deal.
While dried spices have their place at the table, people everywhere are enjoying freshly ground spices for their potency. Not only do you need less, but the flavor is incredible - and the best part is that they can be added right at the table.
With the help of the FinaMill Spice Grinder, boring meals are as much a thing of the past as the notion that kids don’t belong in the kitchen.
Because of the FinaMill, kids of all ages can add their favorite flavors with complete abandon. Teaching moments don’t just happen in the classroom; sometimes they happen at the slice of a knife, the chop of an onion, the roll of a pin, and the smell of Himalayan Pink Salt.
Ready for your kids to learn some skills that will last them a lifetime? Give us a call - your freshly ground spices are just a FinaMill Spice Grinder away.