Kids who learn how to cook tend to eat healthier foods and they’re learning a life skill that’s incredibly important. They learn that cooking a meal is a process and can take time, which helps them to appreciate what they eat. Also, involving your kids in the kitchen can help with picky eating, as kids feel pride and ownership over a meal they helped preparing. But many parents hesitate to get their kids involved in the kitchen because of the dangers there: burning hot ovens and stove tops, sharp knives, raw ingredients, etc.
Those worries aren’t unfounded and bringing your kids in the kitchen requires ground rules to protect them, but if you keep tasks at age-appropriate levels, even toddlers can help out and start learning the basics of making meals.
With a little patience and an open mind, your kids will be little assistant chefs and better eaters in no time. Check out our top kitchen skills by age below:
Toddlers and pre-schoolers
Kids can begin to learn basic cooking concepts from as young as 2 years. Keep in mind that attention spans are usually short, so small tasks are best.
• Stirring/whisking batter in a bowl
• Rinsing fresh fruit and veggies
• Pouring liquid ingredients
• Spreading spreads on bread
• Mashing veggies
• Rolling dough
• Using cookie cutters
• Cutting soft ingredients with a dull butter knife
School age kids
As kids learn to read, the perfect activity is to read cookbooks and follow recipes. Your kids can help choosing recipes and writing shopping lists. An important decision you have to make is: when is your child ready to begin using sharp knives, the stove and the oven? Close and constant supervision is always required.
• Whisking eggs
• Frosting cupcakes, icing cookies
• Using tools like a can opener, garlic press, juicer
• Peeling fruits and veggies
• Whipping cream with a hand mixer
• Using small knives
• Boiling eggs and pasta
• Frying eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches
Preteens should be able to read labels, follow recipes and prepare simple dishes. They should feel comfortable with basic knife and kitchen skills.
• Slicing veggies
• Using the oven
• Working with timers and thermometers
• Kneading dough
• Cooking soup
• Using special appliances like a waffle maker, sandwich press, etc.
• Steaming rice
• Roasting veggies
• Cooking pancakes
• Using a food processor, blender, stand mixer
• Using larger knives
Teenagers shouldn’t need close supervision and can choose what they would like to cook. They can even prepare meals for the family.
• Using all kitchen appliances
• Safely handling and cleaning sharp blades and knives
• Baking more complicated cakes and breads
• Making risotto
• Marinating foods
• Panfrying and grilling meats
• Using slicers and mandolins
• Using gas/charcoal grill and deep fryer
Remind your kids to wash their hands, handle sharp objects carefully and try everything they cook!