When cooking with kids, it’s best to teach them the right way from the start. That’s the way to develop safe food handling, preparation and cooking skills early, according to Kansas State University nutritionist Kathy Walsten.
Kids in the kitchen basics
1. Start fresh
“Start by clearing and cleaning a work area to prepare the recipe,” says Walsten, who is with the Family Nutrition Program, part of K- State Research and Extension. Counter tops can be sanitized by adding 1 teaspoon bleach to1 quart water and applying the mix with a spray bottle, either letting it air dry or drying the counter with a paper towel.
2. Dress kids in kitchen safe attire
Tie back long hair. Don’t wear baggy clothing when cooking, either. Long, baggy sleeves can catch on fire.
3. Promote proper hygiene
Make sure everyone involved in the project washes hands – front and back, between fingers and under nails – in warm, soapy water for about 20 seconds. You can sing the “Alphabet Song” while you are washing; that takes about 20 seconds. Use paper towels or a clean cloth to dry hands.
4. Teach them how to be prepared
Set out everything that you’ll need, such as recipe ingredients, measuring cups and spoons, and mixing bowls.
5. Explain the importance of reading recipes
Measure accurately and use the correct tools to measure ingredients.
6. Prioritize kitchen safety
For safety’s sake, use hot pads when handling hot pans, pots and dishes. Be careful with hot liquids. Handle knives safely. “The kitchen can be a fun place, but it can also be dangerous,” Walsten says. “That’s why kids need to get permission before they cook.”
7. Clean up
Last but not least, Walsten recommends that kids help with clean up – washing dishes and putting ingredients away – before sampling the final product!