Lessons learned when kids cook
Learning to cook is an invaluable skill says Vavloukis, who was cooking entire meals for her family by the age of 12. Her mother passed away when she was 9, so Vavloukis and her twin sister took over cooking responsibilities. While Vavloukis was young, cooking was one of her responsibilities, yet by the time she entered college cooking became a passion, and eventually she pursued careers as a cook, pastry chef, instructor of cooking classes and culinary center specialist at Whole Foods Market in Annapolis.
Vavloukis, of Annapolis, made sure to teach her four children, Eleni, 18, Alexi, 17, Melina, 14 and Angelina, 12 how to cook. By the age of 2, children are ready to be involved in preparing snacks and meals, Vavloukis says.
“At 2 they can start mixing and tasting,” says Vavloukis. “They’re pretty much having fun with food.”
All children can enjoy shopping at the grocery store with their parents, and deciding which ingredients to buy and what is needed for meals and snacks. Five- and 6-year-olds can start cutting with a plastic knife to make salads, salsa or other easy kid recipes. At age 8 to 10 kids can read recipes and start preparing meals with parental supervision. Her children now are assigned one night to make meals. The older children prepare and cook meals completely by themselves, while the two younger children still need a little help from mom.
“The older you get the more skills you have,” Vavloukis says. “It’s one of the most important values kids can have. It allows them to cook for themselves. It allows them to eat healthy as opposed to going out and eating McDonald’s. It allows them to be self-sufficient. It allows them to understand foods, just the quality of food. I think everybody should know how to cook.”
At the Culinary Center at Whole Foods Market in Annapolis, Vavloukis teaches cooking classes to kids of different ages and abilities. Children are able to make recipes from scratch without worrying about making a mess.
“My thing is it shows their creativity. They create food from nothing into something. At the end, it’s a sense of accomplishment. They see it and taste it,” Vavloukis says. “I don’t care if they make a mess.”
For easy family recipes check out our Breaking Eggs blog.