My daughter is a pretty competent baker. She's 12 and knows how to heat chicken in the oven or bake some french fries...but now I want her to learn to cook. Do I start with basic skills or just dive into recipes? How did you teach your kids to cook?
I don't know about how parents teach their kids, but I remember how my parents taught me. I would prep cook with my parents - I'd peel veggies while my mom or dad chopped, chop when I was old enough, they would let me add things to the pot, watch me sautee, and tell me when stuff was done. Basically they just included me in the kitchen and let me help (sometimes made me help lol, they both worked). I'd say it was around high school that I started cooking on my own using recipes (a basic thai cook book was my first! I still use it), and my parents would be available to help if I had questions. Good luck!
I wouldn't say it was planned. They helped out when I had company chopping vegetables and mincing herbs for salads, they learned by example and by taste. They mostly helped on weekends because weeknights they had a great deal of homework. The older one started cooking for herself in college; now that she has her first job, she cooks her lunches for the whole week on Sundays. She knows how to cook for and host a dinner for friends. The younger one started boiling pasta and making simple meals for herself (and us) in high school.
Yes! At 2 yrs old watched everything I did in the kitchen with great interest. Let her taste things as I made them. At age four, she made her 'famous' salad as she called it. I let her do whatever she was interested in and it just progressed. Today, 30+ years later, she is an excellent cook! Makes up recipes with the greatest of ease.
It started with what we ate because you want to learn to cook the things that you like to eat. My daughter is now 16. She was a Montessori kid and wanted to eat food from every continent - so we did. She always ate what I was eating. No kids menus. No fast food. No frozen stuff. No arguments.
we have always had a garden and eat lots of fresh veggies. We didn't eat out lots and we cooked simple healthy meals. I'm a totally single mom with a successful legal career and we cooked almost every nite. It's just about being organized.
When it came to cooking I included her from the very beginning. Every kid loves to stir and pour and measure. If you are holding the stirring spoon you are in control - queen for a day. She learned fractions by cooking. At Montessori school, with the emphasis on fine motor skills, they chopped veggies with a bread knife so she always chopped our mise en place. Who cares if it's perfect? We made everything together.
My daughter is 16 now. As she gained skills she took over more and more. We also watched Cooking shows together like Ina & Julia & Alton Brown - people who taught skills not show boats. I let her choose the menus so she was even more invested in what we made. I never said no to trying something she was interested in eating. We went to ethnic food markets and tried everything she was curious about. When she was 8 she could sear scallops and she chose sides that I might not have chosen but who cares?
We watched Julie and Julia when she was 9 and for Xmas she asked for Julia's book & then made a French omelette.
SO - let them be in the kitchen with you and watch what you do and talk about what you are doing. We have many friends who love to cook and we are all in the kitchen together. We talked about our techniques and methods. Give them the chance to help. Don't dumb it down. Don't buy mixes and preprepared stuff and kiddy tools. Teach them how to really cook. Talk about how to make a menu. When they are ready, they will ask to learn to use a chefs knife or make a marinade or mash the potatoes. And then, they will start looking for their own recipes.
For special occasions my daughter has recipes and dishes that have SentimentL significance. It's a great way to build traditions and memories.
It's sooo fun and some of my daughter's best memories are cooking with my friends and me. And that's another thing - always invite people over because it's such a proud moment to show off.
Right now my daughter's favorite is chery tomatoes from our garden mixed with mozzarella pearls and pasta and drizzled with garlic, olive oil and basil from our garden. It's a thing that is her own.
Good luck and have fun.
It is probably harder to get kids interested these days with so many things vying for attention. But if you start while they are still young enough to want to talk to you non stop meal prep can be a great time for one on one attention from a parent. You might need to establish the habit before they get to the "rolling the eyeballs at parent stage". Also helping to cook could become a viable option to another chore. Maybe that is why I always helped prepare for company. I would rather peel shrimp, or potatoes while chatting with my mother than clean the bathroom.
Got my daughter's first children's cookbook when she was in uterine and kept adding. Cooked dinner most days with them in the kitchen. ( I have a younger son.). Brought them to the farmer's market. My daughter loves to bake (both grandmothers are bakers) and likes cooking. My son makes a few dishes (lentil soup, rice and beans, spaghetti) and does dishes. One day a few months ago, I came in from work and he said, "oh, mom, you're tired. I'll make dinner." Below, the finished products at my daughter's college graduation.