I’ll make this quick because, who has spare time when you need to prepare a meal or 10?
As of a few months ago, I have extra chefs in the kitchen when I need them, and boy does this take the frustration out of the “witching hour”! It means they get focussed time developing fine motor skills, they learn to respect the cooking and food handling (and potentially food growing) processes, AND they spend quality one-on-one time with me – it’s a win-win-win as I like to call it!
Usually, my eldest is finished first with her cooking task simply because she is more experienced and skilled. My 2yo however will spend 20 solid minutes or more cooking if necessary as she loves to be a part of what I’m doing (don’t all toddlers?). So today I’m sharing how I got it to work, and a few recipe outlines to get you and your toddler started – hooray!
- Ask them, with joy, whether they’d like to help.
- Explain the importance of, and how much love goes into home cooked meals.
- Teach knife and stove skills early.
- Have trust (and patience!) with their rustic artistry.
- Thank them for their part in creating the family meal.
Setting up a workstation in the kitchen.
I set up a stable footstool by the bench or dining table. Arrange a small chopping board, paring knife (or spoon if spooning or other utensils), and the food items, with as much space surrounding this area as possible. Place a hand cloth and the dish/bowl/cup next to them for transferring the food into. Have the child stand up on the stool in front of the workstation and explain the items and what they’ll need to do.
Try these simple, toddler friendly recipes;
Salad (fruit or green). Select, or have them select foods that can be easily cut, set up their work station, and until you’re confident they won’t cut themselves, stay nearby to guide them.
Yoghurt with berries. This one is great for practicing pouring and scooping. Again, guide them lightly until you see they can manage scooping the weight of the items, then relax and let them handle it!
Pancakes. This one is slightly more complex and you will need to supervise for a longer period but when they’re confident, pancakes for Mum or Dad in bed with yoghurt and berries on top is excellent!
Scrambled eggs. I have a small frying pan the children can lift and place on the stove. Have them place the butter/oils in and turn the stove dial to the appropriate setting, and have them crack the eggs into a separate bowl before pouring into the pan. Once they’re confident enough they can crack them straight into the pan. With this, I handle the transfer of eggs to plate.
Sandwiches. You can get creative with your workstation here and line everything up like a train!
Pouring liquids. Juice, milk, water, gelatin drinks. This is a great one to start small then work upwards with the quantity.
Rice cakes with toppings. My little one loves preparing the bedtime snack for herself and her sister. Coconut oil (solid of course), butter, tahini, jam, honey … whatever works 🙂
So – one more reminder before you get started – allow an extra 10-20 minutes for meal preparation 🙂
It may be slow to begin with but such skills can only improve and serve your children in the future. Good luck and have fun!!!!