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Holiday Cooking & Math: A Tasty Duo!

The holiday season is just around the corner, and for many families this means…

The holiday season is just around the corner, and for many families this means cooking – and a lot of it! Spending hours in the kitchen is almost inevitable, but it’s also an opportunity to introduce kids to using math tools like multiplication, addition, subtraction and even division to cook the right amount of food for family and friends. The best part? They get to taste the results and marvel at the skills of your little helpers!

What better way to learn how to use math (while cooking) than to put it into practice! Feel free to use this delicious stuffing receipt below to help your kiddo learn the ins and outs of the wonderful world of measuring!  Convincing them to help you shop for the ingredients….well that may require another blog post!

Doubling the Numbers (and the leftovers!)

This classic stuffing recipe from Epicurious makes 8-10 servings.  Invite your child to help you double the recipe for extra guests or to ensure you have delicious leftovers. Doubling the recipe will teach two important skills: multiplication and converting units.

Here are the ingredients for the recipe:

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter plus more for baking dish
  • 1 pound good-quality day-old white bread, torn into 1″ pieces (about 10 cups)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 1/2 cups 1/4″ slices celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 large eggs

We’ll start by doubling everything. It may help to make a chart, with one column for the original amount and one column for the doubled amount. Your child can do the doubling by hand, pad of paper, or by using a calculator. The doubled amounts will look as such and should yield 16-20 servings:

  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter plus more for baking dish
  • 2 pounds good-quality day-old white bread, torn into 1” pieces (about 20 cups)
  • 5 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 3 cups 1/4″ slices celery
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 4 large eggs

For An Extra Challenge, Try Converting Units!

Another skill you can tackle with your child is converting units of measurement. Sometimes numbers work out nicely and it’s easy to scoop out two tablespoons. At other times, you can end up with a large number of a small measurement amount (for example, if a recipe calls for 6 teaspoons of an ingredient). This is a great chance to teach about converting units.

Under your supervision, have your child look up (in a cookbook or online) how many of one measurement is in another measurement. For example, 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon. Cooking can go a lot faster if you don’t have to keep dipping the teaspoon in the bag. See if your child can find any interesting “shortcuts” with units in the above recipe.

For our stuffing, the doubled recipe calls for 4 teaspoons of kosher salt. By using the conversion rate of 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon, you can help your child understand that another way to write that ingredient amount is: 1 tablespoon of kosher salt + 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.

Important Takeaways

Cooking is an important (and tasty) skill.  It is also another opportunity to spend quality time with your kids and show them that math is EVERYWHERE and an incredibly important tool to master.  By working with your child to teach them how to increase or decrease the amount of food they want to make and introducing them to conversions, you’ll be setting them up for a good life skill that is also quite literally fulfilling.