For many years I have loved to cook and bake. Trying new recipes, learning new techniques, and using my husband as my taste tester. I’ve learned everything I know from my mother, her mother, and watching the Food Network, A LOT.
Once my son was old enough to care what I was doing in the kitchen (before he even turned two), he’s wanted to “help.” At first I didn’t think I had the nerve for this new phase so a lot of times I would make a lot of excuses for why he couldn’t. “It’s too hot it will give you an ouchie” “Mommy has to use a knife and its sharp you could get hurt” You get the idea.
But he was so insistent, he started trying to drag a dining room chair into the kitchen to stand on all by himself. So it was then I realized I had to get creative and start thinking up jobs, albeit maybe unnecessary, that he could do so he felt like he was “helping.” Right away I found out it didn’t take much to make him feel included and special, and that’s the whole point right?
I’ve accumulated a list of tasks (and recipe ideas) that seem to work well with a three-year old’s help and I hope you’ll find these useful!
Pouring Ingredients In a Bowl
This works for baking mostly. With some assistance they can measure the flour, sugar, even the baking soda and baking powder. It takes patience and it will get a little messy, but the memories you make are worth it! Cookies are a great first time choice.
As long as you’re making a simple recipe that won’t negatively effect the finished product (ie a meringue etc) then by all means let them stir their hearts out. Its a great way to keep them occupied too, while you try to assemble other ingredients or clean your work area.
Shake it up!
You guys, Sheet Pan Dinners. For the win. If you don’t know, sheet pan dinners are basically a whole meal you can prep and spread out on a sheet pan and roast in the oven. We like doing things like chicken breast or salmon, sweet potatoes, zucchini, onions, broccoli, and bell peppers. This is the perfect toddler prep because they can do multiple “tasks” to help.
1) They can pick up your chopped veggies (I don’t allow him to do the raw protein) and drop them in a zip lock bag.
2) They can “help” pour in the olive or avocado oil.
3) They can sprinkle the seasoning into the bag.
4) After you seal the bag they can shake what their mama gave them! My son loves to dance and shake, but he’s the dancing type.
5) They can dump the bag on the sheet pan! (With your assistance of course)
Changing my attitude from stressed to excited makes all the difference. It’s hard when you know you could do it by yourself SO much faster. But seeing the pride instilled in them by a job well done, and the joy they get spending time with you makes it all worth it in the end.
If you’ve been hesitant to let your little into the kitchen, try just one of these steps I’ve suggested above, you’ll be glad you did.