In our house, Valentine’s Day has moved from a romantic night out on the town to a family affair. With two little girls, they are all about the holiday and starting new traditions for our family. This usually involves lots of Valentine’s Day eats and sweets, crafts, and of course, chocolate! My husband started a really sweet tradition with our daughters when our youngest was just a baby. He always buys me a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Valentine’s Day—which I enjoy for several days until I forget to change the water and then they wilt into oblivion. Along with buying me flowers, he also buys a rose for each of our daughters as a way to show them that he is their first and only Valentine (for the time being).
Like most homes, our kitchen is the epicenter. My kids love “helping” me make dinner, and they really love to help bake tasty treats. I do my best to make sure they eat healthy, but to be honest they exist on chicken nuggets and pizza. I find that when I can make food “fun,” they are more likely to eat it. Even something silly like cutting food into shapes or creating food designs on their plates makes them more agreeable when it comes time to eat. Check out these heart-shaped fruit kabobs to help kids make healthy but fun choices when it comes to snacking. Even though it’s tough, we try to balance all of the Valentine’s eats and sweets with some healthy choices as well.
While my girls, ages two and four, love being in the kitchen, I don’t love the mess. One way to curb this problem is do as much prep work as possible beforehand. This includes chopping and measuring. At their young ages, they are really into “dumping” ingredients and mixing. The kitchen is a great place to learn everyday skills. I am a former high school Home Ec teacher, so I really emphasize teaching basic life skills at a young age. Teach kids about different tools in the kitchen and how to read a recipe—even if they can’t read, they can identify the numbers in measurements and some recipes even include pictures. Math is also something that can be taught in several ways when it comes to cooking. Units of measurement, counting, time, and temperature are all things that are prevalent in the kitchen.
So many of my favorite memories as a young girl are times I spent cooking with my grandma. The kitchen is sacred place where special memories are made. I hope when my girls are older, we can share this bond and love of creating delicious food. Something about cooking together makes you want to open up and share your feelings and your heart with whomever you are sharing a meal with.
Valentine’s Day Eats and Treats by Age
You can start planning now to share the joy of cooking and make some fun memories on the holiday of love this year. Kids of any age will enjoy getting in the kitchen and helping create these yummy dishes for Valetine’s Day.
Kids at this age are working on their fine motor skills. Mixing and spreading are good tasks for them to try in the kitchen. For every holiday, I always buy a boxed cake mix and frosting and let the kids help me make a batch of cupcakes to decorate. They love helping me mix and spread the icing and decorating with sprinkles. Check out this link to make your regular cupcakes into heart-shaped treats.
For this age group, with adult supervision, kids can do simple tasks like grating chese, prepping veggies, and measuring ingredients. By involving kids in their own meal prep, they will be more likely to try new foods and make better choices when healthier options are offered. While Valentine’s Day may be full of chocoate truffles and candy hearts, there is no reason you can’t have a healthy meal and sneak some veggies onto their plate. Make a heart-shaped mini pizza and add your favorite healthy toppings for some nutritious variety.
Kids in this category can start operating small appliances and do some slicing and dicing with an adult present. Model safe behavior while teaching kids to use knives. Make sure your knives are properly sharpened and stored safely. After a day of writing out Valentines for their peers and spreading love, treat them with a red velvet milkshake. This recipe includes skills such as measuring and using a blender.
Ages 13 and Up
This age group, with proper training and supervision, can make an easy meal from start to finish. With a good foundation of recipe reading, safety skills, and, most importantly, learning how to properly clean up, your teenager can help you out by taking the lead on dinner prep on Valentine’s Day. When kids are given the opportunity to try out their kitchen skills, they build their confidence in the kitchen which will benefit them for years to come. These heart-shaped bacon cheeseburger pockets are easy enough for a teen (or a novice spouse) to tackle on their own and the whole family will enjoy.
Skills for a Lifetime
Teaching kids how to be competent in the kitchen is something that will benefit them their entire lives. By giving them a solid foundation of cooking skills, nutrition, and healthy eating, you are setting them up to be healthy and independent adults. As a parent, raising children who are health-conscious and independent is one of my main areas of focus. The memories created in the kitchen will last you and your children a lifetime.