3 Easy Tips for Cooking with Kids

Our oldest child just got her learner’s permit and started the tenth grade. My husband and I are starting to talk in terms of “things to do before Anna leaves”. It’s a strange new season of life that I don’t much care for. Everything feels urgent – and I’m certain that things will go left undone and words left unsaid. As a parent, there are so many things that I just do out of habit, never considering that it may be something one of our kids needs instruction on. One of those is cooking with kids. For example, this same sweet daughter tried to make pancakes (literally just mix and water) a few weeks ago. You’d think that I had never made that child a pancake before. There was powdery mix everywhere and the pancakes themselves were a gooey mess. Apparently my kids watch me cook, but they don’t really watch me cook. 

I’m doing a better job with our younger two kiddos, now that I know more about the skills they should have before they leave this house. Both boys, I’d love for our youngest two children to know their way around the kitchen. And because I started getting them involved in cooking at younger ages, they enjoy it more! Sure, it takes longer to do everything, but I believe it pays off in the long run. Here are three easy tips for cooking with kids.

girl on a play mat

Photo credit: @katqe

1. Identify age-appropriate cooking tasks ahead of time!

When cooking with kids, there are SO many steps they can do with supervision! Even 2-3 year-olds can help make dinner, if given the right tasks. Cooking tasks that are often manageable for children include:

  • Measuring and pouring ingredients
  • Washing fruits and vegetables
  • Mixing, stirring, and mashing
  • Peeling foods like garlic and hardboiled eggs
  • Picking herbs out of the garden (if you have one!)

My 9-year-old son can correctly identify every single herb in our garden, and run and grab some when we start dinner prep. Older kids can begin helping peel carrots and potatoes, press garlic and juice limes/lemons, grate cheese, and cut soft foods. 

2. Invest in kid-friendly cooking tools.

You can purchase just about any adult cooking tools in child sizes, in addition to kid-safe knives and cutting gloves to protect your little ones’ hands. Again, you can find them at several different retailers, but I’ve purchased from both Amazon and Williams-Sonoma. Kid-friendly cookbooks are also a must! We love the Mayo Clinic Kids Cookbook – it is both easy for kids to use, and contains healthy recipes that I don’t mind them eating! 

girl playing at toy kitchen

Photo Credit: @thatstrangebunch

3. Be consistent!

At least a few times a week, try cooking with kids. They can truly be involved in all aspects of cooking – from meal planning to grocery shopping to making the meal. When you trust them, your older children can even begin making their own school lunches! This truly saves me a boatload of time in our already-hectic mornings. 

While it initially seems like a lot of work, there are SO MANY benefits to cooking with your kids, not the least of which is knowing that you’re sending them off to college at least semi-equipped to feed themselves. Cooking is also a great way to teach kids about shapes, colors, and measurements, while also improving fine and gross motor skills. Interestingly enough, involving kids in cooking can also decrease picky eating at home, as exposure to different foods increases the willingness to try them. 

Good luck! What are YOUR best tips for cooking with kids? 

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