Cooking Techniques: Cutting Up Food For Kids and My Favorite Utensil

If necessity is the mother of invention, annoyance is its cranky old dad.

Cutting up food for toddlers is one of the least enjoyable parts of the eating experience for me. Using a fork and knife on a plate to tackle grapes, hot dogs, pizza slices, sandwiches…is no fun. And it’s one of the main reasons parents’ food gets cold.

Flat Out Awesome

Enter the flattest and my favorite kitchen utensil, the cutting board. For me there’s something about using a proper knife on a proper board that makes me feel like a pro who’s in control, rather than an overburdened butler working for many tiny masters.

Flat Out Fast: Knife Skills

More importantly it is incredibly fast, especially when using proper knife skills. And if you haven’t mastered those skills, have a look at this great video, and then give yourself lots of opportunities to practice. It will give you a ton of confidence in the kitchen, and would be great to teach your kids when they’re old enough.

A few tips:

Bite Sized Pizza Slice

Cutting up pizza also speeds cooling to avoid the dreaded tomato sauce burn. Or is it tomahto?

  • Use a big knife, like a 8″ or 9″ chef’s knife for most things, or a paring knife for small items like grapes.
  • Don’t worry about getting a knife and board dirty. I used to think that way but I think speed matters more. Agree?
  • Set up a “station” at the table for rapid processing of pancakes and waffles: butter, chop, slide onto plates. Repeat.
  • Don’t scrape food off with the cutting edge as that will dull it, use the blunt edge instead.
  • Grapes and hotdogs are widely acknowledged as two of the greatest choking hazards. Be sure to cut these up well beyond the toddler years.

Shear Speed

Depending on what you’re cutting, kitchen shears can be extremely fast as well. I like these two varieties from Henckel: separating, and intact. You may also like these shears called Tiny Bites, designed specifically for cutting up kids’ food.

Tell me I’m wrong

Am I the only one who gravitates to the cutting board so much? Is a chef’s knife ridiculous and do you try to avoid getting a board dirty…getting by with smaller knives and cutting things up over the sink? How long do you cut up your kids’ food before expecting them to do it themselves?

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Posted in Fast, Food Articles, Techniques
2 comments on “Cooking Techniques: Cutting Up Food For Kids and My Favorite Utensil
  1. Mary Miele says:

    Use the board and the knives, and put them where they are easy to reach. I have an 8-inch chef’s knife, at least 2 6-inch chef’s knives and others. No, they are not ridiculous to have. If you spend any time in the kitchen you need them. Keep them sharp, and use them with the board…as long as you know how to use them it’ll be safer than just cutting things over the sink! I use all of mine. Multiple times a day. I have 4 cutting boards. Have a few cutting boards on hand (you can put them on your list for a birthday present from your kids!) and you won’t feel bad about getting them dirty.
    My 9 year old can use a knife but sometimes needs help cutting meats up. Give kids a knife they can hold onto (like a non-serrated butter knife, or a canape knife with some fun handles the kids might like), and have them start with pancakes, and supervision of course! It’ll look more like they’re pulling food apart vs. actually cutting, but they’ll get used to it.
    We set the table with knife, fork and spoon for dinner every night so all utensils are available to use. My daughter also sets the table so she knows which side of the plate the knife and spoon go on.
    I also plate up meals in the kitchen…cut everything that needs to be cut up in there, and then the cutting board and sharp knives stay in the kitchen.

  2. Avatar photo Ryan says:

    Mary, we are of the same mind. And it sounds like you are all over this stuff with the kids, nice work. I never thought of using canape knives with the kids but that’s a great idea!

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