Cooking with Kids
Updated: Apr 24
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
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.