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How to Teach Your Kids to Cook

Help your kids learn to cook with these easy tips, recipes, and age-appropriate kitchen activities.

Cooking with your kids can create wonderful opportunities for family time, which is often invaluable for parents with shared custody. Cooking also helps children with cognitive development, encouraging thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, while allowing them to apply knowledge such as counting, measuring, following a sequence or directions, and more.

It’s easy to teach kids how to cook if you follow this advice

Prep for mess

There are several things you can do to minimize messiness in the kitchen when cooking with your kids. For starters, make sure your child is wearing an apron or clothes that can handle a spill. You can also keep a trashcan nearby so your children can easily throw things away as they cook. Try to keep ingredients and cooking utensils confined to a limited countertop space so that the whole kitchen doesn’t need to be utilized.


Keep activities age-appropriate

Your kids should always be supervised when cooking, especially if they’re using appliances or handling raw meats, eggs, or other potentially harmful ingredients. Depending on how old your child is, it’s only safe for them to complete certain cooking related tasks. You can start teaching your kids how to cook when they’re young, just as long as you keep their age in mind. The Food Network recommends these guidelines:

2 to 3-year-olds

  • Measuring ingredients
  • Garnishing dishes with pre-chopped ingredients
  • Sprinkling salt
  • Spreading sauce
  • Decorating baked goods

4 to 5-year-olds

  • Picking and washing produce
  • Whisking eggs
  • Stirring ingredients
  • Greasing pans or trays
  • Filling pans or trays with batter
  • Rolling dough
  • Helping clean up

6 to 7-year-olds

  • Mixing for baking
  • Cracking and separating eggs
  • Scooping and rolling cookie dough
  • Peeling
  • Grating
  • Washing dishes
  • Setting the table

8 to 9-year-olds

  • Meal planning
  • Helping with the grocery list
  • Making part of their school lunch
  • Starting to read/follow recipes
  • Using a can opener
  • Storing leftovers
  • Making a simple dish on the stove

10 to 12-year-olds

  • Chopping with a knife
  • Simple sauteing on the stove
  • Baking in the oven
  • Experimenting with their own recipes

Start with easy recipes

Introducing your kids to cooking with easy recipes is the best way to help them achieve success in the kitchen. Here are 15 easy recipes you can try as your child’s cooking skills slowly start to advance:

  1. Fruit salad
  2. Muffins
  3. Grilled cheese sandwiches
  4. Pancakes
  5. Mac & cheese
  6. Scrambled eggs
  7. Quesadillas
  8. Spaghetti
  9. Personal pizzas
  10. Chicken noodle soup
  11. Sloppy joes
  12. French toast
  13. Chili
  14. Tacos
  15. Stir fry

Remain patient

It’s important to stay patient with your kids while you cook together. Remember, it's meant to be fun and enjoyable, so if you don’t feel comfortable having your kids in the kitchen yet, don’t rush it! If you do decide to cook with your kids, the ideas we’ve outlined here should make the experience easier, helping you remain composed and minimizing stress.

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