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If you have kids, there’s a good chance you’ve spent more time in your kitchen since the pandemic started. Since last March, parents like me have made on-demand snacks and hot lunches, stress-shopped for gadgets and appliances to try new recipes, and used baking as a math lesson (measuring, halving or doubling recipes, counting biscuits—it’s all educational now!).
As a mom of three young daughters, the kitchen can be an exhausting place, but it’s also a place to teach my girls how to feed and nourish themselves. Below, find 10 of our favourite kitchen gadgets and tools to help your kids stir, slice, and mix, and learn to love cooking in the process.
1. Cherry pitter
%image(‘12259271’, type=”article-full”, alt=”This cherry pitter saves time and creates a fun project for little hands. Credit: OXO”)Does anyone need one more niche kitchen gadget? In this case, yes. My daughters love olives, so at snack time we stand over the counter hacking up each little orb to remove the pit. With cherries, the process is all that plus a crime scene of red juice splashed all over the kitchen.
I found a solution in this 5-starred pitter. Any pause I had questioning such a niche tool was quickly overpowered by my desire to never again spend 30 minutes of my life producing two teaspoons of children’s snack. It also makes baking with fresh cherries easier.
2. Popcorn popper
%image(‘12259284’, type=”article-full”, alt=”Popcorn is a super easy, super customisable snack that’s child-friendly. Credit: Getty / anilakkus”)
For years now, we’ve had a standing weekly family movie night, in which the snacks are just as important as what’s on screen. After buying cartloads of supermarket popcorn, I realized it’s far less expensive to buy the kernels in bulk and whip up stovetop batches with an automatic popcorn maker.
3. Knife set
%image(‘12259286’, type=”article-full”, alt=”If you’re ready to let your children use knives, consider these options. Credit: Joyoldelf”)Forking over knives to children isn’t for everyone, but if you think yours are ready to start slicing and dicing, try one that’s made just for them. With a blunt tip and ergonomic handle, this plastic set is safer for little ones than its metal counterpart and still cuts through most fruit and veggies.
4. Manual pasta maker
%image(‘12259293’, type=”article-full”, alt=”Pasta making is a great activity for kids and adults alike. Credit: KitchenCraft”)
Creative tots will love the tactile fun of kneading pasta dough and feeding the result through a pasta maker to produce delicate fettuccine or angel hair. Mix up batches of the dough, and then play around with shapes and sizes. Whether you top with lovingly made bolognese or straight-up salt and butter, they’ll love it because they made it.
5. Cupcake liners
%image(‘12259295’, type=”article-full”, alt=”These rainbow silicone baking cups are reusable and dishwasher-safe. Credit: Amazon Basics”)
Almost as soon as lockdown began, we started baking endless batches of banana bread muffins, along with the rest of the country. After going through countless disposable liners, I bought the reusable version in colourful silicone. They’re sturdy, and the finished muffins pop out smoothly. I also use them to fill with cut bananas or orange wedges for dessert, instantly elevating fruit salad.
6. Learning tower
%image(‘12259302’, type=”article-full”, alt=”The Stepup Baby Montessori Learning Tower Kitchen Helper is a great way to get children involved. Credit: Stepup”)
Popularized with the Montessori method of education, kids climb into leaning towers to engage with the world more easily. A cage-like guardrail protects them from falling off, making it a perfect stool to sidle up to the kitchen counter to roll pasta dough, decorate cookies, or help with the measuring and mixing for your morning batch of oatmeal.
%image(‘12259304’, type=”article-full”, alt=”Credit: G- Tree / Eyand”)
Teach them early to protect their clothes (and cut down on your laundry) with a mini apron. These ones from Amazon are available in adorable adult-kid bundles (matchies!)
8. Ice pop moulds
%image(‘12259312’, type=”article-full”, alt=”Spice up your ice pop mould collection with this fun unicorn-shaped option from Zoku. Credit: Zoku”)
When the weather gets warm, we get an extra boost of fruit and veggies from smoothie ice pops. My girls love my tropi-kale version, with chunks of frozen mango, pineapple, and banana, a handful of kale, and almond milk or orange juice.
This mini version makes a perfectly-sized pop, especially for my 3-year-old who’s known to tap out halfway, leaving the drippy remnants on the kitchen table. If it’s really hot (or I’m really tired of cooking), these are also a perfectly respectable breakfast option.
9. Waffle maker
%image(‘12259320’, type=”article-full”, alt=”Waffles are a tasty weekend breakfast, as well as a fun family activity. Credit: Candora”)On weekend mornings, my husband makes stacks of pancakes or waffles, and the girls love to help. Mostly, it’s a classic shop-bought mix.
Occasionally, we mix it up with pumpkin or banana walnut waffles. For weekend breakfast we stick with the traditional waffle maker, but the mini version, producing soft and crispy 4-inch discs, is perfect for tiny helpers. It’s also perfect for whipping up waffle snacks, field testing waffling things, and making an impromptu confetti waffle birthday cake.
10. Measuring Cups
%image(‘12259321’, type=”article-full”, alt=”Every kitchen should have a good set of measuring cups and measuring spoons. Credit: Wildone”)
Measuring dry ingredients made up at least 40% of our maths lessons in 2020. The wide grips on these sturdy stainless steel cups are easier for little hands to hold, and make it less likely half of the flour ends up on the floor.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.