Parents can always use an extra pair of hands, and when encouraged, kids can enjoy spending time cooking and preparing meals. Plus, helping in the kitchen teaches useful skills that will last long past dinnertime. The good news is nine out of 10 children help in meal preparation at least once per week, according to results of a new nationwide "Coaching Kids in the Kitchen" survey conducted for global home appliance brand LG Electronics. One in five parents prefer to engage their children in the kitchen during the summer and winter months, to help keep their child's mind sharp and occupied during breaks from school.
Have little sous chefs in the making? You might be wondering what activities are appropriate for what ages. Setting the table and retrieving ingredients from the pantry or refrigerator are good activities for younger children who might not have the skills necessary to prepare food. Parents indicate age 8, on average, is the appropriate age to start participating in meal preparation.
If you want to get your kids motivated in the kitchen, and help them learn about food preparation, healthy eating, math and measurements, try these helpful tips from Chef Peter Thornhill, LG's executive chef, who himself caught the cooking bug when he was a child. Your kitchen will be transformed into a family fun cooking school in no time.
Grocery discoveries. Take the kids grocery shopping with you to jumpstart creative cooking juices. Picking out ingredients is the first step in cooking a meal, after all. Plus, when children are involved in picking out new foods, such as an exciting new vegetable, they're more likely to try (and like) new things, helping to expand their palate.
Easy access. Keep your kids' favorite ingredient items in easy-access areas around the kitchen. Ninety-seven percent of parents agree that keeping greens and healthy snacks in easily accessible areas of the refrigerator is an important part of teaching your child healthy eating habits. LG's super-capacity fridge with a built-in magnetically sealed door within a door is perfect for easy access to commonly used cooking ingredients and small, healthy snacks kids are able to retrieve themselves.
Party in the kitchen! Don't let meal preparation seem like a chore. The more excited you are to cook with your kids, the more excited they will be, too. Turn on some music, have a giggle, and share tidbits about your day as you whip up something delicious.
More pepper? During the cooking process, taste the food and talk with your kids about alterations. This will encourage them to engage their palate and analyze the flavors they taste. Just watch as your little rosemary-lover or garlic connoisseur blossoms.
Clean machine.As your child gains more experience in the kitchen, allow him or her more control over recipes, cooking methods and cleanup. Start with simple cleaning tasks like clearing the table and loading the dishwasher to emphasize the importance of cleanliness and kitchen upkeep. To spend more memorable moments with your kids in the kitchen, parents can look for new ways to save time and tackle even the toughest tasks from greasy pans to dirty ovens. For example, LG's EasyClean ranges have a quick and easy clean-up for mess inside the oven - just spray water into the oven, press a button and wipe away any residual grime 20 minutes later.
Armed with these tips, consider trying this kid-friendly recipe from Chef Thornill and gather your whole family in the kitchen for some cooking fun.
Mixed Fruit Flatbread
It's always tough to get kids to adopt healthy eating habits with all the unhealthy items that are presented to them at school, in restaurants and in advertising ... and yet these are the foods that they clamor for. Bringing a healthy angle to their favorite foods is a great way to point them in the right direction.
This recipe is easily adapted to the kinds of ingredients that you have in your house and gives your kids the opportunity to play with different flavors. You can easily make a large batch of the flatbread dough in advance and freeze smaller portions for individual use. Store bought pizza dough and flatbread (or naan bread) work great, too.
1 packet instant dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon olive oil
1. Combine water, yeast, salt and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and let sit for five minutes.
2. Add flour to mixture and place dough hook attachment on mixer. Combine ingredients on low speed for 30 seconds, then turn onto medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes more, or until dough is smooth and no longer clings to the sides of the bowl.
3. Rub top of dough with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Store somewhere warm for one hour.
1/4 teaspoon cornmeal
2 tablespoon Raspberry jam
1/2 cup frozen peaches, thawed
1/2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed
1/2 cup apples, sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon honey
1. Preheat oven to 500F with a cookie sheet or pizza stone positioned on center rack.
2. Divide dough into three pieces, set two aside (you can freeze these and use later or make multiple pizzas).
3. Using a rolling pin, evenly roll dough to 1/3-inch thick. Place dough on a smooth surface, sprinkled with cornmeal.
4. Spread jam evenly over entire surface, then top with peaches, apples and strawberries, lightly press these down for better adhesion.
5. Sprinkle cinnamon and drizzle honey over the fruit.
6. Slide pizza carefully onto preheated pan or pizza stone and let bake for 6 to 8 minutes.
7. Remove from oven, let stand three minutes, cut into six pieces and serve.
The LG Coaching Kids in the Kitchen Online Survey was conducted by Ebiquity, formerly Echo Research, between June 7-13, 2013 among a total national sample of 2,515 U.S. adults with children age 4-17. Overall the results have a margin of error of ± 2.0 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.