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Teaching Your Kids to Be Independent in the Kitchen

Why You've Got to Listen to This Episode...

In this episode, I’m talking with Erin Chase, founder of $5 Dinners and MyFreezEasy. Her new project Whis-Kid, which was born out of the COVID shutdown, is helping give thousands of kids an important life skill—healthy, affordable cooking—and can create helpers for you at home! Erin will share how her cooking curriculum and guided videos work for teaching kids to cook, the perfect tasks in the kitchen for every age group, and how to handle the dreaded clean-up after your kids cook in the kitchen. Her tips are so fun and will make you want to get in the kitchen to try out a new recipe with your littles.

Want to Teach Your Child to Cook?

The Whis-Kid Cookbook and Guided Video Lessons teach fundamental skills while helping your child made delicious meals on their own! Videos are created by Erin and her own boys so your kids can follow along step-by-step with other kids. Get the whole program for just $27!

Moments You Don't Want to Miss

  • [01:25] Erin shares her quarantine project and how it’s since helped thousands of kids
  • [14:11] The perfect age for you to start cooking with your kids and being intentional with cooking lessons
  • [25:45] Where you can start if you’ve never felt like you have great cooking skills
  • [27:53] As kids are leaving the nest and going off to college, here are the basic kitchen necessities that they will need
  • [34:52] How to handle cleanup in the kitchen with your kids so it doesn’t drive you crazy
  • [41:20] Chelsea’s Top Takeaways

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Key Takeaways to Help You Get in the Kitchen with Your Little Ones

As always, we’ve rounded up our top three takeaways to summarize what we believe are the core points to remember from Erin.

1 - There Are So Many Valuable Life Skills to Be Learned From Cooking

Yes, knowing how to cook is, in itself, a life skill. Anyone who has ever been 20-years-old and watched their friends struggle to make eggs knows that. Or, frankly, anyone who still struggles to make a grocery list that results in actual yummy recipes!

But cooking goes beyond that. It can teach attention to detail, following instructions, math, fine motor skills, food safety, and so much more. And as your kids gain confidence in the kitchen, they can also flex their creativity by making their own recipes and testing flavor combinations.
Not to mention the joy that can come from preparing a meal for those you love.

4Food is a huge part of culture and family and just general sustenance. The earlier we can let our kids start feeling comfortable preparing their own food, the better.

2 - Kids Can Start Building Skills in the Kitchen at a Young Age

You probably don’t want to leave your three-year-old in the kitchen to make a souffle. But like most things, young kids are capable of more than we give them credit for.

I love Erin’s suggestions of starting at age 2 to 4, letting kids add ingredients, stir, flip pancakes (with supervision). Then adding skills as they are ready.

Henry, George, and I can’t eat gluten. And since gluten free baking is one of my favorite hobbies, the boys spend a lot of time in the kitchen with me. They love measuring out ingredients, cracking eggs, turning on the mixer, checking to see how the bread is rising.

They can’t be left unattended—really anywhere, but definitely not in the kitchen—but it’s fascinating seeing them grow. Henry has started to anticipate what comes next. He knows what goes into certain recipes, like waffles or banana bread. It’s so much fun.

And the sooner you can start intentionally teaching in the kitchen, the less foreign it will feel when you ask your 15-year-old to make dinner.

But even if you’re starting at 15, they’ll thank you when they’re older.

3 - The Mess Early on is Worth the Long-Term Benefits

I love the mindset shift Erin shares—that you don’t “have to” do XYZ, you “get to” do XYZ.

When it comes to cooking with your kids, I think it’s especially powerful.

Your kids will make a mess of the kitchen. They will ruin some recipes. Heck, I said tablespoon instead of teaspoon to Jeremiah just a few weeks ago and we made the SALTIEST batch of steak tips ever.

But they will learn. And those skills will benefit them for years and years. It will help them save money on groceries and avoid ordering GrubHub every single night. It will mean they eat healthier (or at least know how to).

It’s crucial to mention though, that you’ll also make amazing memories. I said earlier that food is part of culture and family. And taking the time to teach your kids to cook, even if it’s sitting in the kitchen while they learn from Erin and Whis-Kids, checking in on them, and eating what they create—they won’t just learn a skill.

When they move out and go to make dinner, they’ll remember those times with you.

So, embrace the mess. Teach them to clean it up. Celebrate all they are learning and the independence they’re building for adulthood.

It’s not always easy to keep that perspective when your kitchen is covered with flour, but I have faith in you and your kiddos.

Links & Resources Mentioned

Connect with Erin

Erin Chase is the founder of 5DollarDinners.com and MyFreezEasy.com and author of The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook series and the MyFreezEasy cookbook series. She recently released the new Whis-Kid Cooking Curriculum and Guided Videos for teaching kids to cook.

She’s on a mission to help busy, overwhelmed home chefs learn to spend less money on groceries and get organized in the kitchen. Her courses and membership programs have helped tens of thousands of shoppers save hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless shreds of sanity.

She has been featured on the Today Show, Rachael Ray, the View and countless other media outlets.

When not whipping up delicious, frugal meals in her kitchen, she can be found out on a run, chasing her 4 boys around the neighborhood, or taking escape from the south Texas heat at the pool. She lives with her husband, 4 hungry boys, and 1 furry boy in San Antonio, TX.

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