It's great to get kids into the kitchen. They can learn healthy eating habits, explore different cultures, carry on family traditions and hone their math skills. But here's the thing: Those kiddos are often covered in true grossness and germs. So how do you let your little ones into the kitchen for cooking lessons but keep them and your food clean?
Here are a few tips to make your shared kitchen experience a healthy one:
Start out clean. Washing hands, surfaces and utensils often will avoid spreading bacteria while preparing food. This is one that's worth harping on with your kids. Have them wash their hands before they start anything in the kitchen. Count on them touching their faces—scratching a forehead, tugging an ear, sucking a thumb, picking a nose—then have them wash their hands again. Keep hand sanitizer within easy reach for a quick cleanup.
Follow proper food safety techniques. Your children will learn from watching you to use separate cutting boards for raw meats and vegetables when you're cooking, or keeping foods at proper temperatures. But give them lots of verbal cues while you're cooking together.
Help them dress the part. Here's a money-saving cooking tip: Don't worry about throwing down $40 for a kid's apron. Just commandeer one of dad's old button-down shirts and have your kid wear it to protect his clothes from the tomato sauce and to protect the tomato sauce from all the creepy crawly stuff on his shirt.
Keep the kitchen calm and orderly. Train your kids early that the kitchen counter is for food preparation and cooking—it is not a dumping ground. In time, clean kitchen habits will be second nature to them.