With so many of us now working towards working from home (with kids!), most of us are also cooking more. This is the perfect opportunity to teach kids the basics of cooking and let them help out in the kitchen! Not only does this provide some relief for parents, but research shows kids who help out in the kitchen are more likely to try new foods and become more interested in cooking. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!
With that said, there are different tasks that are safe for kids to do at different ages. Here are a few tricks for getting kids of different age groups involved in the meal prep process:
- When kids are really young (babies and toddlers), a great way to get them excited about cooking and prepping is to let them watch you cook (and eat!). You can talk them through what you’re doing and let them play with safe kitchen items, like wooden spoons, so they become familiar with these tools.
- Once the kids are a little older (2-3 years old), they can help with (supervised) tasks like pouring flour and other dry ingredients into a bowl, washing vegetables and fruit with water, tearing spinach into smaller pieces, frosting cooking, pouring or sprinkling measured dried herbs and spices into bowls and putting away lightweight and unbreakable clean dishes.
- When they’re even a bit older (4-5 years old), they can use plastic knives (they make special kid-safe knives!) to help with chopping vegetables and fruits, crack eggs into a bowl, measure dry ingredients and pour them into bowls, whisk ingredients together, pull florets from cauliflower and broccoli heads, juice citrus fruits and wash and take care of dishes. It’s still important to supervise kids at this stage!
- Once they’re school-aged, they can use a small paring knife (supervised!) to cut soft foods, peel fruits and vegetables, stir food as it cooks in the pot, spray cooking spray on pots and pans, scoop batter into a pan or cups, measure liquid ingredients, put groceries away and be in charge of dish washing. This is also a great time to teach them to read recipes.
- When kids are in middle and high school, they can do pretty much anything to help in the kitchen! Let them lead the cooking process and help with meal and snack planning.
Here are a few recipes that young kids can help with. Like I mentioned earlier, older kids can help or lead the process for any recipe, and it’s never too early to get them involved.
- Peanut Butter Walnut Energy Bites
- Trail Mix Bars
- Blueberry Crumble Muffins
- Cinnamon Nut Granola
- Greek Yogurt Berry Pancakes
- Dark Chocolate Mug Cake
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
How do your kids help out in the kitchen?