Kids Cooking in the Kitchen – Part 1

If you are a parent or guardian, you likely spend a good deal of time chauffeuring your child to soccer, dance, and other learning opportunities. Have you ever considered teaching your child to cook?  Or, are you concerned about how much it will slow your meal prep time if you involve your child in meal preparation?  We’re here to say that the additional time spent is worth it! For one thing, the ability to plan and prepare balanced meals is a valuable skill that pays off throughout a lifetime. Second, cooking is a great confidence booster for a child. And finally, cooking together is an easy relationship-building activity for parents and children.

Let’s look at the story of seven-year-old Isabel and her mother, Ryan.

Isabel has the ability to cook meals for her family, but it didn’t come all at once. Her mom, Ryan, says, “She is seven. She has always loved helping in the kitchen and really began spending more time with us in the kitchen in 2020 during Covid. At first, we gave her ‘safe’ tasks that were age-appropriate, such as washing fruits and veggies and mixing ingredients. Gradually, we have allowed her to take over more tasks as she has gotten older, like peeling and chopping veggies, or using the stove and oven, and she can now prepare a meal on her own. We have found she is more likely to try new foods when she is involved in the process. When she prepares a meal on her own, she feels very confident and proud of herself. She is also excited to contribute to the family and make people feel cared for. One time she surprised us with a picnic. She prepped and packed all of the food and drinks, blanket, and even planned everyone’s outfits.”

Isabel was introduced to meal preparation by doing small, easy tasks, and that’s a great way for kids to begin. Allow your child’s curiosity to be explored throughout the kitchen, with proper safety measures. When you think they are ready, allow them to take the next step.

Below is a general guide for age-appropriate kitchen tasks. Take it at your own pace according to your child’s comfort and skill level. Try to create a positive environment for them to learn and grow!

2-3 years old: Rinsing vegetables, mixing, throwing away small things

4-5 years old: Whisking, measuring ingredients, mashing foods with a fork

6-8 years old: Washing produce or dishes, cracking eggs into a bowl, shredding cheese, setting the table

9-12 years old: Planning a basic meal, operating kitchen appliances, baking and cleaning up

Remember, your children might excel and progress quickly through the different skills, or they might need more time to prepare for certain skills. Be their cheerleader and encourage them to try new things.

Stay tuned for the next part of “Kids Cooking in the Kitchen.”