I've definitely grown into a minimalist as far as my kitchen goes. I may eye new gadgets but use strict discernment on if it's something we should bring into our home (looking at you, air fryer).
Talking about getting kids in the kitchen this week has really inspired me to take a look at all the ways we've done it and things that have made it easier. Teaching kids kitchen confidence is not easy! It takes intentionality and patience and TIME. I mean, have you ever seen a five year old shred lettuce?
To finish off our exciting week of kids' kitchen chatting, here are the top five items for cooking with kids. Notice I didn't call them must haves...they're just things we really love and use often. This will be quick and pictureless, because we honestly use these things so often they don't usually merit a photo with them. Also note that these are affiliate links and I may earn a small commission if you purchase from my links at no extra cost to you. I will only ever recommend things we actually use and love.
We had a set of popsicle molds that needed to be returned to the kitchen and washed, and while I'm normally the type of person to buy reusable items (like zip bags, napkins, etc), we seriously just never used them because I couldn't count on the kids to return the popsicle sticks. Yes, I could have taken the time and effort to train them to bring them back, or have them sit in the dining room to eat them, but being completely honest...the times I was giving them a popsicle are the times when I wanted to just send them outside to play. They do a great job throwing the trash away and I don't have to wander around the yard looking for a plastic popsicle stick.
I wanted a healthy snack that I could make with the kids, and this is absolutely perfect. We like to just mix up yogurt with fruit juice or crushed fruit (like strawberries crushed with that potato masher you use once a year that prevents you from opening that one drawer), smoothie mixes (we use these in our coffee shop and LOVE them for use at home!), or you could even do root beer with softened ice cream!
Ok, so I actually bought these to make elderberry gummies with, and we've made gummy bears with the smoothie mix way more than we have with elderberry syrup. Just mix a bit of gelatin with whatever kind of juice you decide on and they set up pretty quickly. These made a great Clover Kid Healthy Snack entry for Oakley last year (she used mango!). I think this year I'm going to get some of the gummy worms molds because four trays is about enough for one snack time, I need the effort to last a little longer!
Side note: if this isn't a classic county fair photo, I don't know what is. Dirty, wild hair, wrinkled shirt, proud smile...I love 4H so darn much. Also note the recipe page linked in this kids in the kitchen starter kit download.
We actually bought last spring this to use with our new Blackstone grill with grand plans of camping...then 2020 happened and we stayed home...and ate a lot of pancakes. It's easy to mix up a batch of pancake mix, and the kids can use this to make perfectly round pancakes. It's one more thing to wash, which is something I usually shy away from, but it's a cleaner process overall than using a measuring cup or something else to scoop the batter with. Our favorite recipe is Edna Mae's by the Pioneer Woman...Big win in the Holmquist household!
4. Instant Pot.
Now I'm not going to belabor this item because there are a million blog posts out in blogland about this dear kitchen gadget, but I added this to my list of kid-friendly cooking items for a few reasons. 1) On saute mode, the top of the pan doesn't get very hot. It's not over open flame or a hot stove, so it's pretty safe to have younger kids add things to the pan. 2) It's really, really easy once you get the hang of it. We've had our large 8qt Instant Pot for 3 years now, so we've found the things that we really like to cook in it and the things that we find are better cooked in a more traditional method. But my kids can easily put pork carnitas, rice, shredded chicken, or oatmeal in and let it get to work on supper. 3) Oatmeal. Have I mentioned the oatmeal? Have I mentioned how we have overnight oatmeal every single morning because I can put it in our baby Instant Pot while I'm cooking supper and set the delay so that it cooks at 7 in the morning and it's ready when the kids are ready for breakfast? Have I mentioned that? And all the homeschool mommas said amen.
I discovered these a few years ago when Lily was taking apple cake cupcakes to State Fair. I thought the pointy sides might be nice for keeping the Ziplock off of the cupcake top, and I was right! Plus - seriously - food doesn't stick to these, which was a major complaint with any other type of cupcake liner. We even tried silicone liners but I could never spray on enough oil to get muffins to come out easily. I buy large packs of these now and we especially love them to take baked goods to a friend, they just look so darn cute!
What a great week of kids cooking conversations! I've loved all of the chatting I've been able to do with people who have downloaded my kids in the kitchen starter kit, and I've so appreciated all the love on it. It was a fun kit to put together, as was this list of our top items. After getting all of this down, I'm wondering what Lily's top items would be, so maybe I'll ask her and do a post about her items. What are you top items? Would an Instant Pot make your list? Let's chat soon!