An extra set of hands in the kitchen can be helpful, but when it comes to little hands parents often fear it may be more work to guide (not to mention clean up the spills) than benefit. See how using certain tools can keep messes a bay (or at least manageable).
I won’t lie. Having kids who enjoy helping me in the kitchen is a blessing, but it’s not always the cleanest venture. So I’ve come up with my 10 tips and must-haves for keeping it fun (and relatively clean) in the kitchen.
- Cover Up (with an apron) – Aprons are a simple way to keep your clothes free of food and smudges when working in the kitchen. I like to have something easy to throw over my clothes to protect them from spills or splashes. Aprons for kids and tots are available at many boutiques. In fact you can find them at Williams and Sonoma or go to amazon.com. But one of my favorite (and cheapest) ways to obtain one is to make a T-shirt apron: take an old shirt, cut from both sides of the collar to remove both armpits; cut around back of collar to keep the ring to place overhead; cut out the back (click here for YouTube demo). That’s a re-usable, fun and inexpensive way to keep those messy hands off my kids pretty clothes.
- Line Your Counters (using a disposable or wet-wicking re-usable tablecloth) – A disposable or vinyl tablecloth. We either use rolls of disposable party paper or this handing colorful spill-proof table-cloth. Spills and smudges wipe easily.
- Pull out the Nesting Bowls – I like these glass nesting bowls because they store easily in the cupboard. But another reason is because they come in varying sizes to set up your ingredients so you can have them ready to pour into your mixing bowls. They are also sized incrementally from small to large, so you can fill with measured ingredients for setting things up for recipe success. I love using the tiny bowl for salts, spices and oils.
- Have a variety of Measuring cups – I keep one-cup, two-cup, and 8-cup glass measuring cups and stackable metal spoons ranging from 1 ounce to 1 cup. It makes measuring liquids and solids simple and they are easy to store. These help to have plenty so you can set up your measured ingredients instead of measuring one at a time.
- Throw in the towel(s) – It’s nice to have plenty of kitchen towels ready for clean up, especially those spills you’ve tried so hard to prevent. Remember, kids can be messy (and so can you), so having a towel handy is nice to keep hands clean as you go and to get those spills before they end up becoming a dirty smudge on the floor because you’ve stepped on a little splash.
- Rely on Wet Wipes – Yes, baby wipes come immensely useful even years after your kids are potty-trained. This saves time heading to and from the kitchen sink to wash their sticky hands. Why? Because somehow (at least in my house) my girls still manage to get a little water on the kitchen floor. That means if it’s not wiped right away, their will be foot smudges (and I don’t like to mop the floor more than once a day).
- Get the Mini scoop – This is perfect for measuring out cookies on to a sheet or making uniform energy bites. It’s also a great way to serve up a refreshing fruit salad with melon or scoop up whipped cream to serve atop a dessert. It’s also a clean way to get it from the “spoon” to the tray and requires only a simple action – scoop and release.
- Pull out a Tray – Trays are perfect for setting up ingredients and make it easy to move it all in one piece, if necessary. I like to line the table first then measure ingredients into bowls or cups and place on the tray to keep it all together and contained in one simple space. Trays are easy to clean and very useful. When not using them for setting up measured ingredients, we use them at the dinner table and for snacks so their crumbs generally stay in one place for easy clean-up.
Disclaimer: This post is based on items I use and recommend based on my own experience and not at all reflective of advertisement for any particular brand.