Meals can be made more fun, by including your kids in the process of making a meal together. It gives you time to bond, catch up on each others day and even do a little math.
Baking can even be a science experiment from all the mixing to the transformation to a cupcake.
Lodi Cooks, located on School Street in Downtown Lodi, has many kid friends utensils to make cooking fun. Tools made for small hands all the way to cool cupcake wrappers.
The web is full of kid friendly-recipes and there are thousands of cookbooks to suit different cooking styles and tastes.
Melissa Wilson-Ny of Two Chefs Events believes cooking with kids builds confidence and a sense of accomplishment. Kids get to sit down to a meal and say, "Look what I can do".
Wilson-Ny will be teaching a class April 13 at Hutchins Street Square with her husband, Walter.
Kids from ages 8-14 learn measurements, nutrition, and how to be a team player.
"It's a lot of fun - a bit messy but they like it."
Safety is also taught. Children learn about the equipment they are going to use, making sure handles on pots and pans are turned inward on the stove so little hands don't reach up for them. Washing hands is stressed from before cooking, during and after as well as about cross contamination of foods. Kids also cut foods with blunt knives.
Young children can learn to roll out dough, cut cookies and make strawberry lemonade.
Wilson-Ny also teaches etiquette. Kids learn to put their napkins in their laps, no using the fingers to eat, and to speak nicely at the table.
To sign up for the class, contact the Lodi Parks and Recreation office at 125 N. Stockton St., Lodi, CA 95240 or call (209) 333-6742. You can also sign up via the internet at www.lodi.gov/parks_rec
Basic tips for cooking with kidsBegin your child's kitchen adventure with wooden spoons, plastic or metal mixing bowls, wire whisk, kid's cookbook, step stool, hot pads, plastic nesting measuring cups, and a child sized apron.
Safety first. Keep young children away from a hot stove, oven, sharp knives and cheese graters.
Allow even the youngest chef to pour the ingredients into a bowl; flour, sugar, eggs etc. Remember to turn the mixer off first.
Cracking eggs can be a challenge for little chefs. Allow them to practice a bit by cracking the eggs into a separate bowl at first. Then you can remove any shells before adding the eggs to remaining ingredients.
Keep the recipes simple at first. No bake cookie recipes, fresh fruit salad, smoothies, dips and sandwiches are a great start. See the recipes below.
Start with a cookbook that has illustrations to coincide with the instructions. This will develop your child's to ability to follow sequential instructions.
Purchase, or make an apron that is solely for your little cook to wear.
Consider switching from glass measuring cups, mixing bowls and baking dishes, to plastic. They are easier/safer for kids to manage and you may feel more comfortable.
Pour on the praise, if the outcome isn't exactly as expected.
Expect a mess. Spills will happen. Take it in stride and simply use the opportunity to teach that clean-up is one aspect of cooking.