Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and of course, great food! There’s nothing quite like gathering around the table to enjoy a delicious feast prepared by loved ones. In most houses, the cooking is left to the adults. But this year, wouldn’t it be fun to involve the whole family?! We know what you’re thinking… letting the kids have reign in the kitchen is likely to result in a total disaster. Think again! The fun and simple activities below will allow your kids to actually be helpful this holiday. Not to mention, cooking together as a family is a great way to build relationships and create warm memories.
1. Let them help decide what to serve. Although you have final say, giving your kiddos the option to voice their opinion is a simple way to get them involved in the meal. Kids love when they have the freedom to choose, and it might even spark their interest in the actual cooking process, too! Rather than giving over full control, steer them in the right direction by giving them some structure. For example, if you decide you’d like to serve a green vegetable, let them decide which recipe looks best. Look through a recipe catalog or cookbook together, marking which dishes you agree on!
2. Come up with recipes together. Finding tried and true recipes online is fun, but have you ever thought about making something totally original? Create something delicious that can be included at Thanksgiving year after year. This might sound like a pretty daunting task, but we’re here to help. Click here to gather some inspiration on how to develop your very own original recipe! Together with your little cook, write out the recipe in your own words (including ingredients, preparation and cooking steps, etc.). Don’t forget to name your yummy creation, too!
3. Go grocery shopping together. Roam the aisles with one another, searching for the ingredients you’ll need for your feast. Taking children along to the grocery store teaches them how to shop for nutritious foods. Allow them to explore all of the different foods out there, rather than just the foods that end up coming home with you. From the produce section to the bread aisle, continue the conversation around food by talking about where various foods come from and why they’re good for us. Your little helpers are sure to learn something at each stop!
4. Assign easier kitchen tasks to the younger cooks. If you have extra little cooks helping you, it’s important to only give them jobs they can handle. Overwhelming them with advanced jobs might discourage them or even be dangerous. Instead, leave tasks like mixing, stirring, combining ingredients, and taste testing to them! It may seem small now, but your child is developing new skills they can use later in life. Over time they can graduate to larger, more complex cooking assignments, building off of their previous skill set.
5. Make a game of cleaning up! The dreaded part of any great meal is the clean up. While this might usually be the part where you lose your helpers, keep them interested this year by throwing in an incentive. That’s right, we’re talking straight up bribery. Turn up the music and hide a small, dollar store prize in a spot they’ll only find if they’re really doing a thorough cleaning job. For example, in the dishwasher or under the table. If you don’t want to use physical prizes, maybe the reward is first dibs on dessert to whoever helps the most!
We hope these ideas sparked some ideas for you and your little ones this Thanksgiving! Don’t forget to share your holiday kitchen photos with us on our Facebook Page. Happy Holidays from all of us here at Every Kid Can Cook!