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The best way to keep your kids busy and to get a good dinner on the table is to enlist their help! Here are some tips on how to create a future foodie from Stuff Every Mom Should Know.

How to Teach a Kid to Cook

At some point between birth and leaving your house for the big bad real world, your child will need to be able to cook a few things. By involving him in some simple steps of food preparation, you’re setting him on the path to never going hungry.

Tips for you:

Make sure there’s enough time. Not every mealtime is the ideal co-cooking experience. Having company over in ten minutes? Need to whip up a perfect soufflé? Pick a different day.

Create a safe environment. A misshapen pizza or lumpy meatloaf is still edible. Don’t sweat imperfection. Support the process by aiming low so no one’s disappointed. And remember to keep smiling.

Invite input. Does your child want to add olives to his homemade lemonade? That’s a great idea—in his own glass. Encourage his suggestions for flavor combinations. If the food doesn’t taste great, talk about what might have happened so you can both learn. Is it too salty? Too spicy? Help him develop his taste buds as well as his opinions.

Kitchen tasks for your child:

Break an egg. Have him do this into a small bowl first so you can more easily fish out broken shells or discard a bad egg without ruining the dish.

Measure and dump. For baking projects use an intermediate bowl if your child is less than accurate.

Whisk and stir. Introduce the whisk and wooden spoon early in your child’s life and prevent your own carpal tunnel syndrome.

Tear lettuce. Your child can own the salad by washing, drying, and ripping lettuce leaves.

Spread the goo. A safe spreading knife can handle butter, hummus, peanut butter, jelly, and a lot more!

Set and clear. Give your child the job of setting and clearing the table to teach him that these tasks don’t just happen by themselves.

School-aged kids are capable of tackling many steps of meal preparation. The big question is whether you’re patient enough to work together (and keep a smile on your face). If you create a safe learning environment in the kitchen, you may find that eventually your sous-chef will invite you to watch TV while he makes the meal.

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