If you ever have the chance to send your children to a cooking class or cooking camp, do it.
We recently came off a week of cooking camp for my 9-year-old daughter at Create a Cook. Each day, she brought home a full dinner for the family. Not having to plan meals or cook for a week was fantastic for me, but the camp was even better for my daughter.
Benefits of Cooking Classes
I cook quite a bit with my children at home, but there are some limitations when it comes to teaching your own children to cook. Sometimes, they’ll listen better and be more open to new things when the message is coming from someone else. Here are several ways your child could improve in the kitchen with a little help from the outside.
Knife Skills: As a parent, I hesitate to give my kids a sharp knife for cutting. They didn’t hesitate at the cooking school, though. My daughter and her friend both came home with little cuts on their fingers, but they pushed through and got the hang of using sharp knives.
Different Equipment and Techniques: Cooking camp offered my daughter access to tools and techniques that she doesn’t get to experience at home. I have no culinary training and I never make high-maintenance recipes. At camp, she used special chopping devices and whipped eggs for 8 minutes in a mixer for a cake recipe. She was excited to share these new experiences with me.
Trying New Foods: No matter how much I try to convince my children to taste different foods, they aren’t always open when I make suggestions. If someone else introduces a new food, they’re more likely to try it. And if they make a dish, they’re almost guaranteed to give it a chance.
My daughter ate things from cooking camp that she wouldn’t have touched if I had made them. And honestly, she made things I probably wouldn’t have made at home. Dishes like Vegetarian Cassoulet, Provencal Chicken, and Beef Bourguignon are a few steps above what I usually make.
Confidence: Making meals outside our kitchen and bringing them home to serve to the family really increased my daughter’s confidence. She now insists on cutting up peaches and plums for herself at snacktime, even if I offer to do it. She wasn’t exactly timid in the kitchen before this camp, but she has a new fearlessness that I’m hoping will inspire her to cook more meals for us.
If you can’t find a cooking camp or class in your area, check out local kitchen stores. Sur La Table offers cooking classes at stores across the country. Some communities have kitchens that are open to the public, and we can all encourage our local elementary schools to include some cooking education in the curriculum. On a less formal level, you could arrange “dinner play dates” at different houses where several kids make dinner together. Branching out from your own kitchen is a great way to expand your children’s cooking skill set.
How do you encourage your children to cook and try new foods? Please share your ideas in the comments.