Get your kids cooking and teach them valuable life skills they will use for the rest of their lives. Yes, we know… they can be SO MESSY. That's okay! Use these tips to teach your kids to cook without all the stress.
It's time to get your kids cooking! Not only will it teach them to respect food and engrain healthy eating habits, learning a valuable life skill will boost their confidence and help them feel empowered. Plus, it's amazing what even the pickiest eaters will try if they had a hand in creating it.
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If you're a little worried about the process, don't be! We have some great tips to help you get your kids cooking in an age-appropriate way… without all the stress. Now, grab your matching aprons, and let's go do this!
WHY WE TEACH OUR KIDS TO COOK
Many of us have been gifted with a LOT of extra time with our families lately. (It is truly a blessing!) Let's take this mandatory staycation and make the most of it!
Instead of retreating to the kitchen to meal prep in solitude, invite your kids to help. If they're anything like ours, they're dying to help anyway! Use this opportunity to teach them one of the most valuable skills you can… how to prepare food for themselves and their future family. The reality is, they won't know how unless we teach them! What better way than to turn everyday dinner prep into a cooking lesson?
MAKE IT AGE APPROPRIATE
Helping prepare a meal will look a lot different for a 4 year old than it will for a 16 year old, so make sure you are giving them tasks that are age-appropriate. Here are a few lists with some easy ways to get your kids cooking, no matter their age!
TEACHING KIDS AGE 2-5
So often young kids want to help in the kitchen but we turn them away because we don't want to deal with the stress… or the mess! Here's a list with simple tasks to get these excited little helpers involved without them driving you (too) crazy. Hey… we aren't miracle workers!
- Wash Hands – Instill this important step early on!
- Wipe Down Surfaces – Grab your favorite kid-friendly cleaner and let them prep the counters for food.
- Cutting Cookies – A favorite! Grab some cute cookie cutters and get to work.
- Wash Produce – They may need a little help, but let them do the washing! Just be sure to keep a towel handy. 😉
- Stir, Stir, Stir – Kids this age don't yet have the motor skills to help with things like chopping, but they can stir. Keep them away from hot liquids and stick to things off the stove at this age.
- Kneading Dough – They may not be able to knead the bread alone, but they'll sure love giving it a few good punches!
Be sure to talk to your kids while you are cooking. Explain what you are doing and why so they can learn the process.
COOKING WITH AGES 6-7
Kids in this age group have more developed motor skills… and a longer attention span! They can do everything the younger ages are allowed and these tasks, too.
- Chopping Fruits and Veggies – No, not with sharp knives!! Instead, use these super handy kid knives.
- Setting the Table – Not exactly cooking, but still a dinner time service!
- Cracking Eggs – Remember to wash hands after.
- Juice Lemons or Limes – Squeeze away!
- Check Internal Temperature – With assistance, let them insert the thermometer and try to read the temp.
- Grease the Pan – Use butter, oil, or your favorite cooking spray.
This age is so much fun to cook with because they are eager to help. Don't worry if they ask a bazillion questions, they just want to learn!
COOKING WITH AGES 8-12
This age can read and will probably be able to work a bit more independently in the kitchen. Here is a list of more advanced tasks they may want to learn. However, only you know the maturity level of your child, so choose accordingly!
- Peel Potatoes – Teach them proper usage of vegetable peelers to avoid cuts.
- Beat the Eggs – The more bubbles you see, the fluffier they will be!
- Use a Can Opener – Automatic can openers will make this easier, but manual ones are just as good!
- Boil Pasta – Try this delicious recipe!
- Stir on the Stovetop – Gravy, sauce, soup, etc.
- Read a Recipe – Teach them the ins and outs of following a recipe. Start with something simple and see if they can do it alone!
- Measure Ingredients – Math lesson, anyone?
- Clean Up After – Don't just let them do the fun part… teach them the responsibility of cleaning up the kitchen afterward, too.
All of these tasks should be done with complete adult supervision. No matter how responsible your child is, they are still learning!
COOKING WITH TEENAGERS
Teenagers should be able to cook a meal independently. Still, make sure your teenagers know all food safety rules before you allow them to prepare a meal for the family!
Teaching your kids to be good stewards of their money and resources is just as important a lesson as cooking. Show them exactly how you plan your meals to stay within your budget. After all… they'll (hopefully) be doing this all on their own soon enough!
There you have it… a few of our favorite ways to help get your kids cooking and learning vital life skills. Just remember to have patience and have FUN! The mess can always be cleaned, but the time you'll never get back. Now, go make memories!
Share your favorite ways to get your kids cooking in the comments below! We want to hear from you!
Check out these other helpful posts, too!
- Learn why family mealtime is so important and how to make the most of it!
- Once you've cooked your meal, enjoy it with these family conversation starters!
- Teach your kids to save money with this free printable to help them reach their goals!
Have the thyme of your life!
I can’t tell you how much this article helped me. I was SO BAD at cooking. I started living by myself maybe 3 years ago and I was only making frozen meals and Kraft Dinner. Then, I discovered your blog. It changed my life. I learned slowly how to do things by myself. It’s funny but I was inspired by this chart to start learning the basics. Today, I’m still learning but I’m able to make a meal from scratch using what I own. My mother never really taught me how to cook, I wasn’t really interested and she never pushed further. Let me tell you how much I will teach my future kids. It’s SO important. Also, I saved A TON of money on takeout!
Thanks for everything again Jordan! ♥
Cooking is an essential skill that kids should begin learning early on. I love that you have tips for all ages here – it definitely helps parents when they bring little ones into the kitchen!
I love this post! Such a wonderful skill to teach our children. Thanks Jordan.