In the Kitchen with Your Little Chefs: First Things First
If we teach our kids to keep their kitchen-tool usage to a skill-appropriate level, they can begin to do certain tasks independently, like washing and drying produce, filling measuring cups, or mashing potatoes. Then, they’ll only need our super-attentive assistance when they are working near a hot range, using sharp utensils, or handling raw meat.
The dirt and germs that reside underneath a set of fingernails, on a pair of busy hands, or on countertop surfaces, usually aren’t recommended ingredients for any meal! Therefore, teach your children to wash their hands well, before any food preparation. In addition to hands, explain to your children that clean hands need clean surfaces and clean food to work with; be sure to teach your children how to properly wash and rub any residue from produce.
When preparing raw meat, eggs, and non-meat items together, keep the items separated from each other to prevent cross-contamination. Raw meat has bacteria, which isn’t safe to eat until it is cooked to the appropriate temperature. So, remember to use one knife and cutting board for the raw meat, and another knife and cutting board for any other ingredients. Also, after the meat is prepped and cooking, make sure you wash everything the raw meat touched, such as hands, tools, and surfaces, again!
Play it Cool
Food poisoning is awful. Avoid this nasty ailment by always keeping perishable food cold. When left in inappropriate temperatures for an hour or two, the food becomes a favorite place for bacteria to make a home (making our edibles a risky thing to eat). Make it a habit after each trip to the grocery store to put all the refrigerated items in the fridge; and after you’ve finished eating a meal, try to promptly put any leftovers in the fridge too.
Remember that you are an example for your children; if you always show your children the proper way to handle food, it will be easier for them to remember all of the necessary rules. The more you allow your children to cook with you, while practicing safety, the more adept they will become in the kitchen.
With the first and most important thing – safety – out on the table, it’s time to take your kids into the kitchen and get cooking!