Like many people around the world, restaurateur Marissa Hermer is a busy mom who has recently taken on responsibilities of homeschooling young children. And Hermer realizes that sending her kids, Max, Jake, and Sadie, into the kitchen is a good parenting tool. Of course, learning to cook involves math, science, and other important life skills. Plus, Hermer jokes, once her restaurants reopen to guests, she may be putting her kids at risk.
As a parent myself with preschoolers who woke up to chocolate chips this morning for no particular reason, I can tell you that even little kids can do a lot in the kitchen. With supervision, a 5-year-old can crack eggs. Maybe you don’t trust your children to turn the stove or oven on and off. But you probably trust them to wash ingredients and measure and stir and set a timer.
And with schools closed around the world, there are now many free or affordable online courses that can teach your kids how to cook and bake. Here are some of the best:
LA couple Sean and Jessica Mickey offer online classes (free, but donations to Venmo are welcome) that teach students how to make family-friendly, plant-based dishes like hummus, Moroccan carrot salad, cider bread, and frozen strawberry yogurt.
Marissa Hermer, who still offers takeout and delivery at Olivetta and The Draycott while bringing donated meals to hospitals, loves having foodschool as a resource for her kids.
“They’re the most wonderful couple, so I’m naturally attracted to them,” says Hermer, who opened her restaurants in LA with her husband Matt. “They not only teach the kids about cooking, but also about the seasons, the seed cycle, geography and history. And my favorite is that all the kids have to try what they’ve cooked and if they don’t like it, rather than saying “disgusting,” they’re instructed to say, “That’s not my thing.” Isn’t that wonderful?”
Yes, getting kids into the kitchen is also a way to teach them manners and etiquette, even if their faces are covered in syrup. Each week, families receive a prep sheet, recipes, and a Zoom link for the lesson via email.
Christina Tosi’s baking club
Milk Bar founder Christina Tosi started an Instagram baking club where she teaches families how to make treats using simple ingredients like marshmallows, cap’n crunch, peanut butter, pretzels and fruit. These free lessons are designed to get kids hands dirty: Tosi had her nieces make sweets while they video-confer to the baking club.
Raddish Kids, an all-ages culinary club that delivers monthly cooking kits, is now offering free online classes. Founder Samantha Barnes, a former teacher and home school mom herself, archived these cooking classes on Facebook. And Raddish’s beautifully illustrated recipe cards for dishes like blueberry pancakes and guacamole are a great reference when trying things out at home.
Food Literacy Center
This nonprofit organization that aims to encourage kids to eat vegetables and is known for teaching low-income families about cooking, nutrition, gardening and exercise has Facebook Live Lessons, a free online curriculum for fun snacks and meals like ranch popcorn , noodle soup and vegetarian tostadas. There are hints for everything from learning knife skills to what kids can do with dried beans.
Outschool, a marketplace of live online classes taught by independent teachers, offers cooking classes, many of which cost less than $20, that teach kids things like baking desserts and making chicken pot pie. There are also more elaborate series of courses, including one on “how to cook like the house elves at Hogwarts” (eight courses for $150).
Bake bread with children
If you’ve managed to stock up on flour and yeast, why not teach your kids how to bake their daily bread? A good place to start is King Arthur Flour’s free online lesson with baker Amy Driscoll. This class is an extension of the company’s Bake For Good Kids program, which includes a free recipe book with directions for buns, pizza dough, muffins and more.