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  • Denise Scott

Cooking with Kids

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

Young children love to spend time with their parents and do the things that they do. Cooking is a novel activity for them, even though the novelty may have worn off for the parent. Cooking with your child and giving them tasks helps you discover joy in a shared project.


Young girl helping mom in the kitchen


Studies show that when a child is involved in meal preparation, they are more likely to eat what they have helped to prepare. Having your child involved in cooking gives lessons in math, chemistry, measuring, and reading. Tasks are assigned according to ability, but any age can participate.


Some ways to involve your child in preparing meals:


1. The youngest (1-3) can:

  • pour items from a measuring cup into a bowl

  • Hand you items to peel or chop

  • Rinse items

  • Help to stir

  • Learn the names and colors of produce

  • See, feel, and smell the ingredients

  • “Cook” with their own play kitchen items


2. Preschool children (4-6) can:

  • Help to gather items together before starting

  • Help to measure items

  • Stir or mix with hands

  • Learn about food ingredients and health benefits

  • All of #1


3. Early school-aged kids (7-11) can:

  • Do all of the above and

  • Measure out items in measuring cups

  • Learn about serving sizes

  • Begin to learn about food labels

  • Understand the differences between healthy and unhealthy foods

  • Prepare a pan for baking and remove items (with supervision) from the oven


4. Preteens and teens (12 on up) can:

  • Learn safe knife skills

  • Peel and chop items

  • Read and follow recipes

  • Safely use an oven and stove

  • Learn about nutrition labels

  • Understand healthy versus unhealthy food choices


Teens can learn to cook on their own with a little instruction


Make cooking more fun by playing music your child enjoys and throw in a little dancing or singing some tunes describing what you are doing.


In addition to helping in the kitchen, children can also be a terrific help in the garden. After all, they love to play in the dirt! Planting, growing, harvesting, and preparing your own produce for meals can be a great source of wonder and satisfaction for the whole family. Keep in mind that you can garden with seeds in a pot if you don't have a yard or want to start small.

Make gardening a family affair

These experiences can create a love for healthy food and help to create lifelong habits.

Check out chopchopfamily.org for more ideas for cooking with kids and recipe ideas.


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