Everyone Eats, Everyone Cooks (and Why My 5 Year Old is Now an Egg Cracking Pro)

caden cracking eggs

Recently I realized that I hadn’t been involving my kids in the kitchen as much.

I’ve always been a big advocate of it, but somewhere around the time that I was pregnant #4, I began to want to keep things simpler by just doing it myself most of the time.

My goal was to make things more convenient and fast. After all, this is something I’ve been doing for years. I know the shortcuts, I have the methods down pat, and I can eyeball measurements without needing to dirty extra dishes. Having the kids play or be otherwise occupied while I cooked meant no extra messes, no one to step over, no recipe mishaps (curry instead of cinnamon, anyone?). Just me, my efficient little self, and I.

However, what I prefer isn’t always the best option.

What would actually be better is to have my children (especially my 5 and 7 year olds) involved in the preparation of our food, honing their kitchen skills, learning more about nutrition, and growing in confidence at their ability to be a part of the food culture in our home. I do already get them cleaning up after each meal, but they could grow in that area as well.

real food kids courseMany months ago, I had agree to review the eCourse Real Food Kids: In the Kitchenfrom GNOWFGLINS, and this, I figured, was the way that we were going to work towards these goals.

I love the motto of this course:

Everyone eats, everyone cooks.

It’s true! Every person, whether male or female, young or old, does their fair share of eating (and some more than others!). If they eat, shouldn’t they also know how to cook and be a part of the meal-making factory that happens in our home three square times a day?

In addition, I had another (rather humbling) motivation for doing this course with my kids. In the makings of this course and preparations for marketing it, Jami put out a survey to a number of us “real food” bloggers. I was one of them, but the survey wasn’t for me. It was for my 7 year old daughter. It asked questions like:

  1. What is real food?
  2. What are some foods that you should not eat? Why should you not eat them?
  3. Do you find it difficult to make good food choices away from home? Why or why not?

Although my kids and I talk about food choices and nutrition frequently, I was surprised to find that she couldn’t answer the questions nearly as well as I would have liked. That surprised me (and frustrated me a little, if I’m being honest), and it motivated me to find new ways to teach her.

Keep in mind that this is a kid that already knows how to prepare a simple breakfast of toast, yogurt and granola, or even scrambled eggs for her family. She’s helped me with plenty of different recipes and kitchen projects over the years, and she’s also capable of cleaning the kitchen fairly well.

In other words, she has some sense and ability in the kitchen. What I realized, though, is that she needs me to intentionally take the time to explain it to her, show it to her, allow her a chance to try it for herself and become successful and confident. The videos inspired my daughter to want to step up to the plate more in the kitchen. She saw other young children cooking and taking charge, and she was freshly inspired to do the same.

real food kids face left

One thing I was reminded of is this… it takes time to teach a child to cook. As you watch the videos of Jami’s daughter cooking (and she does a wonderful job!) you’ll notice a theme. Slow. Careful. Tedious at times. Kids don’t know how to beat eggs rapidly like moms do, their whites and yolks melding as they literally fly all over the bowl at warp speed.

They can’t just grab handfuls of cookie dough that are approximately the right size with just a quick feel for the task, and then roll and slap them on a tray. No. They use their spoon and carefully scoop some up, take it out into their hands, roll it up into perfect little balls, then place them precisely on a tray. Then rearrange them. Twice.

It’s almost painful just to write about it. The fact is, what we already know how to do (and do with speed and finesse) they are just learning, one painstaking, methodical step at a time.

But they must learn!

How the Real Food Kids: In the Kitchen eCourse has inspired my kids and I

We’ve just been going through the course in bits and pieces over the past couple of weeks, and I’ve already noticed some changes in two major areas:

1. My attitude

Being reminded of just what it takes to intentionally train little ones has caused a shift in my thinking and actions. I’m finding myself more patient with the kids in the kitchen, and more purposeful about stopping to show them what I’m doing and let them learn to do it themselves.

caden proud of eggs

A good example happened two mornings ago. I was about to make scrambled eggs for breakfast and my early-bird 5 year old son sauntered into the kitchen. Remembering the video where Jami patiently taught her daughter (probably similar in age) to crack eggs and beat them, I decided it was time for an egg-cracking lesson.

Following Jami’s example, I showed Caden how to hold the egg, how to crack it on the bowl just right, how to use his thumbs to open it up and dump it neatly in the bowl, then mix it up carefully until “the white and the yolk become the same color” (what a brilliant description!). He picked it up perfectly by the second egg, then proceeded to do the entire task of cracking and mixing eggs for me, while I did something else (yes!). He was beaming by the time we served our breakfast to Daddy, and I felt so rewarded for having taking those few minutes to teach him and let him join me in the cooking.

2. My kids are eager and motivated to cook.

Not only that, but they love to imitate the careful, precise steps that are shown in the videos. Each time they’ve attempted something after I have taught them or after having watched a demonstration video, I’ve been amazed at just how well they’ve performed a task or followed a recipe.

abbie with veggie crudites
The plate of veggie crudites that Abbie cut herself started out full, but people started to dig in before I thought to take a picture.

My 7 year old daughter has been particularly inspired, and keeps wanting to make things she’s seen, like veggie crudites to go with our dinner, or peanut butter cookies to share with her siblings. When I see that sort of enthusiasm, how can I say no? I love it. I love watching her bloom before my eyes, and it is so good for her to realize that she is capable of making real food, just like mama.

One of my favorite aspects of the course is how they’ve organized the kids into swing cooks (age 3-6), line cooks (7-11), sous chefs (12-15) and head chefs (16-18). This really helps you to see the different tasks that they can master at each developmental stage. Particularly for my little ones, to watch another child demonstrating these skills in a video gives them confidence as they try it, and gives mothers encouragement that our children can master those skills as well.

Interested in signing up or learning more about the eCourse?

This Real Food Kids eCourse is actually part of a GNOWFGLINS Online Cooking Classes Membership. The amazing thing about these memberships is that you get access to not just course, but actually ALL of the eCourses that they offer… sourdough A to Z, fundamentals of traditional cooking, lacto-fermentation, cultured dairy and cheese!

Memberships start as low as $8 per month, which is very well worth it for anyone really want to dive in and learn more about cooking real and traditional foods. I highly recommend these courses for anyone just getting started, or who really wants to delve in and go beyond the basics in their cooking. You’ll get to watch a ton of videos showing you exactly what they’re talking about, many family-friendly recipes, and practical tips for putting it all together, plus discussion forums, monthly bonus videos and more.

My friend Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS is the woman behind these courses, and as a mom of three teens and a homesteader herself, she really knows what she’s talking about (in fact, she just had a book published on fermenting foods, which Diana will be reviewing here at KOTH in November!).

How do you feel about having your kids in the kitchen? What ways do you teach and include them in your cooking?

Disclaimer: I have received a membership for the purpose of review. I am a proud affiliate of the GNOWFGLINS courses, which means that I earn a small percentage if you sign up through my site. You aren’t obligated to use my links, but when you do it helps to support this site, so thank you!

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  1. I think having kids help in the kitchen is so important! They can learn and grow and us moms can learn patience! lol, because to be honest, sometimes i just want to do it myself so it will get done a lot faster, but that isn’t teaching them anything!

  2. I loved your article. I believe teaching kids to cook is as important as to learning to write. I wish my mother had taught me, I learned out of necessity. I came home from school and I was hungry, Mother was next door, so I fixed myself PBJ with a twist. I lightly toasted the bread then spread PB and peach preserves then placed it in the oven heating it until the topping melted. It was so good I fixed two every day and gained 40 lbs that year. That’s a lot for a 8 year old kid. I since learned from watching cooking shows on PBS and various cooking Channels.

    1. I know, I wish I had learned as a kid, too. My after-school standby was (get ready for this…) a piece of white bread, slathered in ketchup, with cheese on top, melted in the microwave to be a “pizza bread”. Gross, right? And how unhealthy! I’m so grateful that as an adult, there are so many amazing resources out there for learning how to really cook!

  3. I just started a rotation with my 5 and 3-year olds to help me remember to involve them more in the kitchen. We alternate days and they switch between preparing and cleaning up. It is wonderful to train/teach one while the other is free to play with the baby or do whatever…works for the kitchen and the overall peace in our home as we are all busy. Otherwise if I do it all, they have a lot of playtime without enough structure.

    The course looks great! I have been interested in signing up for the courses for a long time but it has been a long time since i have pursued it and I didn’t even realize that they offered a kids course. Now I really need to get signed up!

  4. This is very important, I agree. I need to do better in this area as well.
    However, I also see that there are certain seasons where this is simply not as possible. I’m in one of them right now with moving, and pregnancy would be another one for me (where I have to hold my breath to go into the fridge and get out of the kitchen ASAP). That’s okay too!

  5. I absolutely agree with with having children help in the kitchen. I have 6 children (almost 18, almost 16, 11,9,6,5) and they all help in the kitchen. Each child has “their day” and on that day they help with meal prep (or cook the complete meal if they are able), set the table, and pray for the meal. I love having them in the kitchen with me (I hate doing things alone) and now have 3 children that can completely cook an entire meal. My two oldest boys are not as thrilled with cooking but I know that when they move out, they will be able to take care of themselves. I also know they will be able to help their future wives when needed. My 11 yr old daughter LOVES to cook now and has grown to be an excellent cook and baker! When she was a bit younger and beginning to learn how to cook, she always pretended to take our “order” like in a restaraunt. So I bought her a pad to take orders on from Walmart and she would charge her daddy like 50 cents for a sandwhich, etc. She loved it. She has outgrown that but still loves cooking for her family! I’ve also found that they eat way more things when they are the ones that have helped cook it (and grow it in the garden). My 5 and 6 yr old have the safety knives from pampered chef and have enjoyed cutting up green peppers for the freezer this year. There are so many ways (big and small) for kids to help in the kitchen and I encourage every mother to let them help, no matter the mess or time, it is such a relationship builder!

  6. This sounds so interesting to me. I have had both of my older kids in the kitchen at various times from about 18months (they are 5 & 2 1/2 now). Begining with learning to stir. It is messy but, they are proud of themselves. They now help with scrambling eggs, baking (just the prep, I still handle the stove and oven), puting away dishes, setting the table and cleaning up. Of course I also have seasons where it is just easier to do things myself. But, this post is so great to remind me, that now that baby #3 is here, and I have had some rest, I really need to start including them again. Especially for the picky eater in our family, he does much better when he has helpped prepare the meals.

    1. You’re so right, it’s messy, but it makes them so proud. I love that and it makes me sad to realize that sometimes I just don’t give them the opportunity. That’s interesting, too, that your picky eater does better when he’s involved. I think they just love to eat something that they took part in making!

  7. my mom took the time with my siblings and me to teach us to cook alongside her while we were growing up and all three of us love to cook to this day… my brother may be the best of the three of us (proving it is worth it to teach our boys as well). i value it as well, but like you i need to get better at putting it into practice with my own kids.

    my recent post: i am a runner

  8. My mom taught me how to cook and I have two little girls 4 and 2 so I want to bestow that knowledge on them as well, I think it is so important. I too get stuck in a mode where it is just easier to do it myself so this article was great and a nice reminder to try to take time with them. I am a single working mom so I am just exhausted right now but things will get better. Do you know any resources for moms specifically like me? Courses, classes, or tips, Thanks and I love the content on your blog!

    1. Oh, I can only imagine how hard it is to have the time to cook in your situation, let alone to really invest in teaching them. Have you thought about doing something like freezer cooking? If you had time to devote to filling your freezer with at least meal starters (even if not whole meals) one evening or Saturday morning each week, it might help to make other meals during the week a lot less stressful and time consuming. That’s probably what I would do, and I know that even for myself, when I get in really busy seasons, stocking my freezer helps me a lot. I just reviewed a really helpful freezer cooking book last week:

  9. Our boys have been exposed to the kitchen, but it wasn’t until an illness 2 years ago that I realized the importance of teaching them kitchen independence. Now they can prepare simple meals that do not require recipes (eggs, sloppy joe, baked potatoes, etc) This has been such a blessing for my husband and me. Just yesterday my 11 year old made zucchini muffins without my help.

  10. I love this idea. My little one will be 3 yrs. old in December and has already been showing a great desire to help in the kitchen. And I struggle with this because my cooking/prepping space is so limited not to mention my time to do it all. I try my best to at least let her observe, but those little hands reach for everything! 🙂

    Aside from children, I’m wondering if these videos would be beneficial for adults who know next to nothing about cooking? I’m thinking my husband could benefit from something like this because his mentality towards food and preparing it is quite different than mine. It’s a bit frustrating. So I’m thinking we could all sit and watch these videos together and he, in turn, would be learning practical tips and things, too. 🙂

    1. The videos definitely do help to cover a lot of cooking basics, although you would probably appreciate something like the Fundamentals of Traditional Foods course perhaps even more than the kids one for an adult to learn from (although those would still be great to watch as a family).

  11. My kids make their own lunches for school every day (with guidelines) and they each have their own day of the week to decide what’s for dinner and help prepare it. It certainly makes things more difficult for me, but they are learning life skills!

  12. I just made brownies with the girls I take care of today. We’ve baked before but today I was expressly trying not to say “no” when I could say “yes” and trying not to take control just because of my perfectionism. It went so much better today than it did last time! And the brownies were even more delicious this time than last week. 🙂

  13. So much fun! I can’t wait until my kids get old enough that I can involve them in the kitchen 🙂 I’m sure it takes a lot of patience but it seems so worth it as well!

  14. I wonder if 4 kids is the tipping point for everyone? I used to be SO good about cooking with oldest right beside me. Now I find that unless I am intentional about it I find myself saying “Not right now…” when they ask to help because I am flying around the kitchen trying to do it all as fast as I can. Great “food” for thought! 🙂

  15. Now that my oldest are 12 and 9, I can really see the payoff of having had them help in the kitchen (and around the house, and in life in general) all along–which helps me remember to focus on doing that with my littler ones (6,4,2) now! Because oh my gosh, is it easy for me to let that training slip to the back burner. Life just gets so… busy. 🙂

  16. I totally agree, there are seasons when it is easy to have patience and time, and others where it’s just frustrating because you want to do it quickly (which, then, everyone is in a bad mood–the kids don’t get to help and I’m stressed–why don’t I ever learn? )
    This looks like such an awesome thing. For $8/month I’m going to try to squeeze this in in the next month…looks fantastic!
    Sarah M

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