8 Essential Kitchen Hacks for Baking with Kids

Mother and daughter baking cookies and having fun in the kitchen.
Photo: Thinkstock/Choreograph

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 8 tips and must-haves for keeping it fun (and relatively clean) in the kitchen. 8 Essential Kitchen Hacks for Baking with Kids -

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. But one of my favorite (and cheapest) ways to obtain one is to make a T-shirt apron that’s a re-usable, fun and inexpensive way to keep those messy hands off my kids’ pretty clothes. You can Google it to find an online tutorial.

Line Your Counters

We either use rolls of disposable party paper or a colorful, spill-proof vinyl or wet-wicking tablecloth. Spills and smudges wipe easily.

Pull Out the Nesting Bowls

I like 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 1-cup, 2-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. It helps to have plenty of these 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 can keep hands clean as you go and 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 become immensely useful even years after your kids are potty-trained. This saves time heading to and from the kitchen sink to wash sticky hands. Why? Because somehow 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 onto a sheet, making uniform energy bites, serving up a refreshing fruit salad with melon or scooping 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 things 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 that crumbs generally stay in one place for easy clean-up.

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Lauren O'Connor, MS, RD
Lauren O’Connor, MS, RDN, is a Los Angeles-based private practice dietitian, recipe developer and owner of Nutri Savvy Health, a program focusing on mindful eating and family nutrition. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.