Cooking with kids is a great way to connect and spend quality time together as a family while teaching little ones important healthy eating habits, so get cooking with your kids today!
Five benefits of cooking with kids:
- Cooking is an important life skill.
- Reading recipes can improve your child’s reading skills.
- Measuring ingredients can help improve math skills.
- Picky eaters are more likely to try food they help make.
- Cooking is a great way to instill healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
10 Tips for cooking with your kids:
- Take your time – expect everything to take longer than it usually would so set aside extra time for cooking.
- Be prepared for a lot of mess – cooking is a messy business and when kids are involved there will be even more. Try putting a plastic tablecloth down on the floor or a tray underneath their work station to make the cleaning easier.
- Plan ahead – select an appropriate recipe that your kids will enjoy and that involves plenty of activities that are suitable for their age. Make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment ready.
- Get them ready – put them in clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, put an apron on and tie back long hair.
- Teach children about food hygiene – ensure they wash their hands beforehand and in between touching raw and cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
- Talk through the recipe – with older children, you can get them to read out the steps beforehand and get out what will be needed, talk through the processes and plan who’s going to do what. With younger children, simply explain what you’re making and show any pictures to help with understanding and a sense of purpose.
- Learning opportunities – as you’re cooking, talk about ingredients and their origins, cooking processes and techniques. Cooking is good for fine motor skills and coordination too.
- Tasting – this will make the experience more enjoyable for them, encourage more adventurous eating plus it’s a good opportunity to teach children which foods are safe to eat raw. Ask them to use a clean spoon to taste, not fingers and stirring spoons (at least not until the end!)
- Age and ability – many children’s recipes have age guidelines but look at your own child and recognize what they are capable of doing.
- Make it fun! Children will learn to love cooking if you relax and have fun with them in the kitchen.
Kids can cook (with your help)
Children should start by learning basic cooking skills and build their way up. Use these age-specific guidelines to help your little chef succeed in the kitchen. Don’t forget to go over safety rules and explain what they can and cannot touch. It’s also important to show them how to safely use equipment.
What Children ages 2 to 3 years can do
- wash fruit and vegetables
- count ingredients
- add ingredients to a bowl
- put paper liners into muffin tins
What Children ages 3 to 4 years can do
- pour from measuring cups
- mix ingredients in a bowl
- help make a simple sandwich or pizza
- help gather ingredients
- mash sweet potatoes or bananas
What Children ages 4 to 6 years can do
- stir ingredients together (muffins, pancakes, sauces)
- slice cooked vegetables, soft fruit, cheese, or tofu with a plastic knife
- set the table
- crack and beat an egg
What Children ages 6 to 8 years can do
- use basic kitchen equipment such as a blender or can opener
- toss salad ingredients together with salad dressing
- create a smoothie
- make a simple breakfast like whole grain cereal, frozen berries, and milk
What Children ages 8 to 11 years can do
- use a knife to chop cooked meat, easy-to-grip vegetables and fruit, cheese, tofu, and bread
- make and pack their school lunch
- make a fresh veggie or fruit platter to go with dinner
- use the microwave and stove, with your help
Ideas to inspire your little chef
- Use kid-friendly cookbooks or online recipes
- Put together a folder of favourite recipes
- Have a cooking party for kids. Let them plan the menu, write the grocery list, shop for food and cook the meal, with your help of course!
- Explore different ways to prepare food. For example, carrots can be eaten raw, steamed, or roasted.
- Get creative with pizza night. Let everyone make their own mini pizzas by choosing colourful toppings like pineapple, red peppers, and broccoli.
- Prepare healthy snacks for family movie night together. Flavour popcorn with oregano, cinnamon, or grated Parmesan.
- Let your kids make their own smoothie. Blend Greek yogurt or lower-fat milk with fresh or frozen fruit for a delicious and healthy treat. Let them choose what they want in their smoothie!