Cooking

Guest Post: 6 Tips for Cooking Safely with Kids

This post is written by Daniel Sherwin, a Mail Order guest. Would you like to write something for the Zingerman’s Community blog? Let us know at infoatzingermansdotcom—title your email “Guest Blogger”.

You love your children and want them safely out of harm’s way in one of the most potentially dangerous rooms in your house–the kitchen. Because of this, it makes sense to set aside time, once your kids are old enough, for lessons on how to safely use the kitchen. Doing so can help them develop a sense of how to use good safety habits, which will serve them later in life.

Yet, you might be at a loss when deciding where to begin. Don’t fear, here are six guidelines on lessons you can teach your kids on safe food prepping and cooking:

3 Food Preparation Tips for Kids

1. A ground rule to set is having your kids wash their hands before and after food prep, and to wash the fruits and vegetables they plan to cook. Handwashing is especially important when handling raw meat as foodborne germs, like salmonella, can spread from raw meat juices, flesh and fluids. Research the best food handling practices to prevent such germs from spreading. Using a wooden cutting board instead of a glass or plastic one, for example, has been proven to be more hygienic.

2. Still struggling to better control their mind-body connection, awkwardly coordinated kids are especially likely to handle sharp knives in ways that make you shiver. Guide them on how to properly hold and handle a knife while cutting. Instruct them to always cut away from themselves and to not be distracted when holding a knife in hand.

3. Demonstrate a proper pot or pan lid removal while the stove is hot. You do this by moving the lid away from the body. Combine this lesson with showing them how hot steam travels; have them stick a hand in the upper plume of the traveling steam (where it doesn’t hurt) so that they can feel the steam’s heat. Explain that they will experience a lot more pain the closer they get to the source of the heat. Finally, teach them how to safely treat deep and superficial burns, because everyone invariably gets burned from time to time in the kitchen.

3 Kitchen Safety Tips for Kids

1.Warn your children to never leave a simmering pot or pan unwatched or unattended. Explain that the food contents in the pot could boil over, create a food-splattering mess, burn someone, or even cause a kitchen fire.

2. Show your kids what a fire extinguisher is and how to operate it at a safe distance from the source of the fire. Be sure you and your spouse have agreed on a plan B, should the extinguisher not work, or the kids are unable to make it work. (This typically entails rushing out of the house, and waiting outside until the fire department arrives.)

3. Activate the kitchen smoke detector in the presence of your kids, so that they understand what it sounds like. Follow up by informing them of the agreed upon fire escaping procedure. Make sure all fire detectors in your residence are operational so that all fire accidents are quickly detected.

One Last Word

These food preparation and kitchen safety tips will help you create a content outline of your future in-kitchen lessons for your kids. After the lesson, test them on their knowledge so that you can rest easy knowing they fully grasped what you were seriously communicating. With time, and consistent application of what they learned, they will have good habits for life —thanks to you and your solid parental foresight.