Do you want to teach your children to cook, but are finding it difficult to fit teaching kitchen skills into your already busy school schedule? Cooking challenges teach your children the important cooking skills they need and are fun for the entire family.
For years I enjoyed watching cooking shows with my kids, especially ones that involved competition. So when it came to teaching them necessary kitchen skills, we naturally formatted it after the cooking competitions we loved.
You can easily use cooking challenges to teach your children how to cook too.
Start by making a list of cooking skills that you want your children to know.
- What skills do you wish you would have known before being married?
- Are there skills they need to know to stay safe in the kitchen?
- What skills will help them in the future?
- Make a list of all the skills that come to mind and add to it when you think of new ones.
Most cooking skills will be learned naturally as your child prepares meals. Even something as simple as preparing tacos includes using the stove and a knife. If you shred your own cheese or make salsa, you add the skills of using a grater and blender as well.
Make a list of challenges.
Think about dishes you want your child to know how to prepare or skills they need to master.
Here are a few ideas for challenges:
Budget Challenge – Give each child $5 or $10 at the grocery store and tell them they need to make a meal for the family within that budget.
For older children you could even take this a step further and give them a weekly budget; making them responsible for the family’s meals for the entire week. Give your older child a set amount of money that you would normally use for your family’s groceries. Have them plan, shop for, and prepare a full week of meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
Five Course Meal (soup, salad, appetizer, entrée and dessert) – Each child could make one of the courses or if your children are older they can prepare the five course meal themselves.
Pantry – No grocery shopping, the entire meal must be made from items already on hand.
Calorie Challenge – Show your child how to read labels and search for the nutritional value in foods.
Timed – Set a time limit for the meal to be prepared from start to finish, such as 30 minutes.
Themed Meal – The theme could be based on a movie, a book, a time in history, etc.
Local Produce – Our family has even done a challenge involving green chilies, which are peppers grown in our area of Colorado. Think of local produce your area is known for and make a challenge out of it.
Next you’re going to assign a challenge.
- Choose a dish or objective from your list of challenges.
- Demonstrate the skills needed to complete the challenge successfully to your children.
- Then assign the challenge and let the excitement begin.
It’s really as simple as having everyone circle up while you prepare something for dinner and doing your own little “cooking show”. 😉
Assign the challenge to your children that will be completing it. If your challenge is making pies, let them know if there is a certain crust they should use. Are they making cream or fruit pies?
Tell your children when the challenge will be completed. Will they all complete the challenge at the same time or will each child be assigned a different night to complete their challenge?
Be sure to have all the groceries and supplies on hand. You can have your children work with what you already have or let them make a shopping list of items they will need for their recipe.
You may even want them to make a list and go grocery shopping for their items. Do what works for your family.
Score the Dishes
This is the fun part and best of all it involves the entire family.
After your child has completed the challenge, they’ll present it to the family for scoring. Your child can tell everyone a little about their dish and how they prepared it. Everyone then tastes the food that was prepared and scores it.
How you choose to score it is up to you. Here are some options:
- Your family could just discuss what they think of the dish.
- Each family member could rate it on a score from 1-5.
- Our family uses rating cards that we anonymously fill out. We rate from 1-5, the following categories: Presentation, Taste, and Originality and then we write additional feedback on the card.
Not only will your children learn new skills when your family uses cooking challenges, but you’ll also find some new favorite recipes in the process. Plus you’ll probably notice them offering to make lunch and dinner more often too. 😉
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