Building Family Meals Together: Tips for Cooking with Children
Involving children in the kitchen from an early age can help prevent picky eating, build confidence and make little ones more self-sufficient. Even young toddlers can find a place in meal prep.
The tiniest of hands may enjoy sitting in their highchair playing with measuring cups and spoons while observing, while toddlers can help by washing produce, adding ingredients to a recipe and serving as a taste tester. Children are more likely to try something they’ve helped make versus having it on their plate at a meal.
Pouring from a measuring cup or counting out ingredients are great jobs for preschoolers. They may also enjoy mashing up potatoes or bananas, tearing lettuce for a salad or kneading dough (with your help).
Once school-aged or experienced with helping in the kitchen, kids can help stir ingredients, slice soft foods with a plastic knife and even assemble simple meals like a yogurt parfait or PB&J sandwich. 6-8 year olds can crack and beat eggs, peel fruits and veggies and even use some basic kitchen equipment like a grater, toaster or blender with supervision after instruction from you.
By the time they reach double digits you may have a budding chef on your hands who is able to work independently in the kitchen, with a bit of supervision of course.
Here are some simple meal ideas to get kids of all ages involved:
- Make Your Own Pizza – Have kids help roll out dough and top with sauce, cheese and their favorite toppings.
- Taco Night – Involve older children in cutting up toppings like lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Younger children can help mash avocado for guacamole. Allow everyone to assemble their own tacos.
- Breakfast for Dinner – Young children can help mix up pancake batter while older ones scramble up eggs and cut up fruit to serve on the side.