Thank you to Uncle Ben's Bens Beginners Program for sponsoring this post in support of cooking with kids in the kitchen.
As a homeschool family, we're always looking for activities to help reinforce the important life-skills our kids are learning in class, critical skills like reading and comprehension, math skills, and science, and there's no better place to practice these skills at home than in the kitchen.
Cooking with kids not only provides practical experiences kids in which kids can apply the knowledge they learn in school
To help families turn the kitchen into the new family room and get kids cooking, Uncle Ben's® has teamed up with Tiffani Thiessen to challenge families across America to create memories through Ben's Beginners program, a movement driven by the Uncle Ben's® Brand to help kids learn the essential life skill of cooking as well as they learn how to read and write. Since launching in 2012, the Uncle Ben's Bens Beginners™ program has motivated thousands of families to cook together and has donated $715,000 to children and schools across the country to create healthier local communities.
5 Benefits of Cooking with Kids
Did you know cooking is an essential skill that offers many teaching opportunities beyond math, reading, and science, even for your youngest children? It is. When children learn to cook at a young age, they have real-life opportunities to learn how to follow directions, measure ingredients, practice cleanliness and food safety, and learn about the five senses as they taste new and healthy foods they may otherwise shun away from.
But what I love most is that cooking in the kitchen with kids creates an irreplaceable bonding experience between our children, encourages creativity, and helps to boost our kids' self-esteem as they accomplish tasks to help contribute and support our entire family.
When cooking with young children you'll want to take care and follow age-appropriate steps to keep kids safe and sound around hot burners, pots, and pans. Below is a basic guideline to keep in mind when cooking with kids at home.
2-3 Year Olds
- Select which ingredients they want to taste or use
- Sort ingredients
- Rinse vegetables or fruits
- Tear large pieces of lettuce
- Pour with assistance
- Add ingredients into mixing bowl
- Group utensils when setting the table
4-6 Year Olds (in addition to above)
- Start to read recipes
- Count and do simple measurements
- Cut with a plastic or butter knife
- Cut herbs with kitchen shears
- Crack eggs
- Create recipe cards
- Push the start and stop button on food processor or blender
7-12 Year Olds (in addition to above)
- Select which recipes the family will share at mealtimes
- Create their own recipes
- Find and gather ingredients
- Read and follow recipes
- Help create your shopping list
- Cut with a small sharper knife (supervised)
- Use zester, graters, and peelers (supervised)
- Work with a heated source (with instructions)
- Help wash dishes
Five benefits you'll see when cooking with kids are:
- Improved math skills: Addition, multiplication, and fractions all come into play when doubling, halving, and reading recipes.
- Reading comprehension: Understanding step-by-step directions and adding ingredients in a sequence are all important components to yielding the finished food product.
- Real life science: What happens if you add too much salt or baking powder, or not enough flour, provides an opportunity for kids to get hands-on experience with basic science.
- Self-esteem: Cooking allows kids to learn a new skill, such as baking, and is known to help grade school children with healthy self-esteem development.
- Life skills: Cooking is a life skill all kids must learn. As children grow and get closer to adulthood, the job of feeding themselves falls on them. Start the cooking lessons at a young age so the transition to adult cook is easy later on.
Last but not least, you'll want to keep cooking in the kitchen is fun! Having fun with your child in the kitchen builds positive memories that will last a lifetime.
Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry
In partnership with Uncle Ben's Ben's Beginners program, we're sharing one of our favorite healthy family-friendly recipe, our Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry. This recipe is a beloved recipe of our family and is so sweet our kids frequently call this dinner candy chicken. Of course, we just go with it. I mean, what kid doesn't love candy, and if they're eating candy you know they're not complaining about eating their meats and veggies.
For the sauce:
- 1/3 c. soy sauce
- 1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp. honey
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
For the chicken:
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Uncle Bens Ready Rice, for serving
- Variety of vegetables, for serving
- Make the sauce: In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch. Whisk until smooth.
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat oil. Add chicken to skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden and almost cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Pour sauce over chicken and simmer until sauce has thickened slightly and chicken is cooked through. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions.
- In the final minutes before serving, prepare the Uncle Bens Ready Rice according to directions. Serve immediately
What are your tips for getting cooking with kids in the kitchen? Share them in the comments below.