Lack of knowledge and comfort level in the kitchen are primarily why Samantha Barnes founded Los Angeles-based Raddish, a monthly step-by-step cooking kit subscription service that provides recipe cards, grocery lists, kitchen tools and culinary education.
“Parents have had the excuse for years that there has been no time to teach their children how to cook,” said Barnes. “Now they have time. And kids experience a tremendous amount of pride and confidence when they plan, prepare and present food.”
She pointed out five benefits to getting kids in the kitchen:
1. “It’s a way for everyone to excel. They may struggle with fractions, but they read a recipe and use fractions in measuring and suddenly fractions make sense.”
2. “On a practical level, kids who cook eat. When we let kids make a salad dressing and wash salad greens, suddenly they are excited to eat it.”
3. “Skills last forever.” Barnes said that while parents may not be “creating chefs” they are providing a basic skill set that will carry over into young adulthood and when “they have families of their own.”
4. “They eat healthier and better when they cook and eat at home.”
5. It creates family time.
Barnes noted two main reasons some parents are hesitant to allow children in the kitchen: mess and safety. One solution for minimizing mess is to put wax paper on counters. Have plenty of paper towels handy as well as a broom and dustpan.
“Lower expectations. Kids learn when they make mistakes,” she said.
Regarding safety, she advised that kids practice taking items in and out of a cold oven and learn to properly cut, grate and peel.
“And don’t leave out little ones,” she said. “Small kids can be on a stool and do simple things like scoop, measure, whisk, tear lettuce.”
Barnes said it is important to make mealtime fun.
“Pretend to be chefs and sous chefs, cook with grandparents, take videos, do a dinner and a movie night, take photos of plated items,” she said. “Get out five ingredients and let kids be creative and each make something different.”