Cooking with Kids

Cooking with children of all ages is a great way to involve them in mealtime, teach them about healthy eating and educate them about kitchen and food safety. Certain age-appropriate skills differ depending on life stage and some recipes are more suited for younger chefs. 

Preschool Aged Children

Simple, hands-on activities are perfect for preschool aged chefs to perfect their motor skills and develop their fine motor skills. Plus, kids are more likely to try new foods if they help prepare it. Preschoolers can help with:

  • Wiping tables

  • Opening packages

  • Stirring or whisking ingredients in a bowl

Elementary Aged Children

Elementary aged children are learning to control smaller muscles in their fingers, so cooking is a perfect way for them to help. And measuring ingredients helps to sharpen math skills. Let them help with:

  • Cutting soft foods with a blunt knife

  • Meal planning and shopping for ingredients

  • Using a blender or mixer

Teens

Prepare teens for more advanced cooking tasks as they learn sequences and problem solving. Introduce recipes that offer experiences such as:

  • Using stovetop and oven, with supervision if necessary

  • Sharp knife skills

  • Planning a meal within a budget

General Cooking Tips for Kids of all Ages

Practice Food Safety

Good cooks of all ages wash their hands before and frequently during the cooking process and foods should not be sampled until fully cooked to avoid the potential for foodborne illness. 

Expect Spills and Messes

This can be one of the most challenging parts for parents who want to cook with their kids. The upside is that making messes also means learning how to clean up!

Keep it Quick and Easy

When dealing with younger children and tweens who may have shorter attention spans, assign simple tasks and give clear instructions. Also, try assigning tasks as you go to ensure focus on the task at hand.