Teach a man to fish … try some kids cooking lessons!

We all want our kids to grow up to be self-sufficient and confident individuals. There are so many ways to nurture these characteristics, but so often, when it comes to cooking, Moms are perhaps justifiably reluctant to let the kids loose in the kitchen. After all, we have so many messes to clean up every day. However, you can conduct supervised kids cooking classes. With the proper approach, you can hand over some of that coveted control to the kids, while they learn this essential skill and have lots of fun.

Start with simple foods that may be safely prepared under your watchful eye. Even a first or second-grader can put together a school lunch. So a little mayo ends up on the floor. That’s about the worst that can result from a bag lunch.

All kids love pancakes. Yes, this can be messy, but this is a great first kids cooking lesson. You can teach them how to measure out the dry ingredients, to wash their hands after breaking the eggs and how to mix it all up, keeping the pancake mix in the bowl. Their reward is a plateful of pancakes. They’ll be delighted at their newly learned skills, especially when it’s as good as pancakes.

The key to successful kids cooking classes is staging each lesson to teach a new skill. Making butter is another good one. Kids usually only see a cube of butter that comes from the store. How uninteresting. Freshly made butter is a different story. Find an old-fashioned butter churner if you can. A food processor works as well, although not so nostalgic. You start with heavy whipping cream. Let the kids take turns, churning that cream into a creamy bowl of butter. This kids cooking task looks like a magic trick to a kid.

When you’re finished, divide the butter into portions and let them flavor some of the portions with herbs. Roll the butter like cookie dough, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve the kids graham crackers with fresh butter now, then in the evening, let the kids spread french bread with garlic butter to go with the spaghetti.

Other good candidates for kids cooking lessons are soup, pie, brownies and ice cream. When kids are old enough to manage a knife, with supervision, you can move on to dinner salads, fajitas and fruit salads. Before you know it, kids will be eagerly helping out with meal preparation and perhaps even packing their own lunches. As they gain proficiency, you may look forward to a Saturday morning breakfast of pancakes with coffee.

Teaching your kids cooking skills makes them more independent and builds their confidence. Start with the basics with recipes kids love to eat. By the time they leave the nest, these kids will be able to eat well and economically. Of course, nothing will ever replace Mom’s cooking.