People always ask me how I’ve managed to get my kids to eat, well, just about everything. My answer is that I have never given them “kid food.” As soon as they could eat solid food, I started introducing them to a wide range of flavors and textures (basically mashed and pureed versions of whatever the grownups were eating). The only thing I really changed about my cooking after having kids was avoiding super spicy ingredients and instead opting for add-on spice (hot sauce, pickled jalapeños, and roasted chilis on the side). Now that my kids are getting older (Iain is almost 12 and Lily is 8), I’ve been trying to get them more involved in food prep and cooking. I think the trick to getting them in the kitchen is finding tasks they enjoy or food they really like to make.
My son, Iain absolutely loves crepes. After making crepes for several weekends in a row, I told him I needed to take a break because crepes are pretty darn labor intensive. With the specter of no crepes for breakfast, he announced that he wanted to learn how to make crepes. Great! And, thus was born a fantastic crepe maker:
This crepe-obsession even motivated me to finally buy a proper crepe pan, and let me tell you, a proper crepe pan is much easier to handle than a heavy cast iron pan.
The good thing about having two kids is that they tend to get competitive with one another. If one helps in the kitchen, the other wants to join in. My little Lily has an affinity for chopping, dicing, and mincing. Actually, both kids like to chop—perhaps because big, sharp knives are involved and danger is fun. If I give Lily a chopping task, she’s all over it. I just show her how big I want the pieces to be, and she’s like a machine.
If you let your kids in the kitchen, all sorts of magic can happen. Plus, they’ll learn to respect and appreciate the hard work that goes into making a delicious meal.