mother and daughter preparing avocado toast
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Want Your Kids Involved in the Kitchen? Do These 5 Things

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Involved in the Kitchen

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Cooking for a large family can be exhausting, and if you have a large family or even a couple of kids, you know that cooking can be a chore.

I can’t say that I always enjoy cooking, but most of the time I do. 

Some of you may not feel that way at all; you absolutely hate it!

For whatever reason, cooking isn’t your strong suit – I totally get it.

What’s worse is when you put your hard work into a meal, and your picky eaters refuse to eat, making your efforts seem worthless. 

While all of these things may seem to be against you, having your kids in the kitchen will bring joy to you and them. 

Putting in the hard work of encouraging your child to get into the kitchen now can save you time in the long run, and here’s how:

  • As they age, they can make meals for themselves or your family.
  • You’ll feel less stressed knowing that someone else can help out.
  • You’ll feel a sense of joy that you’ve gotten your child to be more independent. 

There’s so much more that can come from getting your child in the kitchen, but you may be asking – how can I do that?

Here are five simple ways you can get your kids in the kitchen:

1. Start early

Get your kiddo in the kitchen early. By early, I mean as early as they can start pointing and verbalizing. 

I’m not saying have them at the stove stirring – that’s just not safe – but get them learning.

Talk to them and tell them what you’re doing when you’re cooking in the kitchen. 

Give them pots, pans, and spoons to play with. If they see you cooking, then your child will want to do it too. 

(Plus, what toddler doesn’t like pots and pans?). My twins love to get into the them.

When you feed them, always tell them what they’re eating. Point to every food and talk about it. What color is it? 

Is it a fruit, vegetable, or carb?

Let them play with their food. Not only is it a great sensory option for them, but when they do cook, they will have to work with different textures anyway. 

The more involved they are with food, the more they will learn about the kitchen and how it works. 

Check out this quick sheet I put together so you can reference activities by age:

Guide Sheet for Kitchen Activities By Age

2. Encourage Pretend Play

Give your little ones opportunities to “cook” on their own. 

Try finding budget-friendly small kitchens that are their size with pretend foods, chef hats, and aprons. These are super fun for them.

Here are a few small kitchens and items you’re little ones might enjoy and are a perfect gift to request for upcoming birthdays and holidays.

My kids also always enjoyed it when I played airplanes with their food. Naturally, they open their mouths for me to feed them.

I also pretended to be silly and upset when they ate their food. They always find it hilarious, so they eat more to get a reaction out of me. 

My daughter loved that I called broccoli “trees,” so I’d beg her not to eat my trees. 

Her broccoli was gone in no time!

3. Let them help

Once they are old enough to help, let them. 

I know it can be hard to let them help if you’re eager to get dinner done fast and don’t feel like monitoring or teaching, but even a little teaching on your part and help from them goes a long way.

I recommend only allowing them around the stove when they can fully understand how to be safe. 

Of course, you’ll be monitoring them all the time, but to be sure, talk with them about how to be safe in the kitchen. 

I allowed my oldest daughter to help do simple things when she was around three years old, like preparing sandwiches, putting cookie dough on the cooking sheet, seasoning meat, etc. 

Of course, when I do have them season meat, I place my hand over their hand so they don’t ruin the meal.

They can also pour contents into a pan, such as canned foods, pre-filled measuring cups, and liquids.

A little girl pouring a can of tomato sauce into a pot on the stove.
My four year-old daughter, Mya, helping pour tomato sauce in the pot as we make chili.

You can use hand-over-hand to let them stir as well.

You can also teach them how to learn how to cut up foods. I use these knives because they are great for learning how to cut correctly without worrying about them cutting their fingers:

Once the meal is complete, get your child excited about the meal they helped prep.

When they are really young, they feel like they’ve done so much, even though it wasn’t a lot. 

So in their eyes, they made that meal, and guess what? They are more likely to eat it. 

That’s certainly a sense of accomplishment. 

Now, you’re on a roll to getting your child in the kitchen more often. 

Don’t forget to involve them in the cleanup process. 

They should learn how to put their plates away and throw away what they need to. They can also learn how to recycle, store food, wash and dry dishes, put items in the dishwasher, etc.

If you start this super early, you’re forming habits that you and them will benefit from in the long run. 

4. Do a test run  

If you’ve already started working with them while they were younger, they are well-equipped to begin making small meals.

I have three kids that can get in the kitchen and cook a decent meal. They aren’t all jumping for joy at the thought, but they can cook a meal if needed.

Around age 8, my son was able to make an omelet. 

He was a natural in the kitchen and always wanted to help do something.

He’s 14 now and was able to cook delicious meals for our entire family at 13.

Most recently, he cooked fried chicken and waffles for everyone. 

Fried chicken on top of a waffle on a white plate.

Some kids have a natural ability to cook, and some don’t. That doesn’t mean your child can’t, but he might require more monitoring and teaching. 

I adore this cookbook for kids to help them do something out-of-the-box and to get them more excited about cooking. 

I even used this cookbook as a part of our homeschool – teaching them to learn how to measure and experiment with food. 

5. Make it Fun 

During Covid, I got each of my older kids to pick a meal that they wanted to learn how to cook. 

They could go online or use a cookbook to pick anything they wanted. 

It was so much fun. 

I also let my son cook to earn extra money by cooking for the family a few days a week. 

I paid him a certain amount per meal, and he was motivated to get the extra cash. (He also really enjoyed how much we enjoyed the meals).

I also appreciated the break from cooking. Woohoo!!

Related: 5 Top Helpful Tips When you Don’t Feel Like Cooking

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They are also on their way to having a better adulthood if they can at least prepare a meal for themselves.

You can also think about other ways they might be motivated to cook.

Do you have older family members or friends they could cook for and bring a meal to?

I bet grandparents would love to taste their dishes.

Is there a special event coming up that they could cook for? My 10-year-old daughter recently made spaghetti for our church fellowship dinner. 

She was so excited to have everyone taste her meal, and she is really looking forward to cooking the next meal.

The truth is, cooking can be fun when we involve our children. It may seem like hard work at times, but remember that you are setting them up to be able to provide for themselves if they choose to make something besides dinner or if you’re not cooking.

Do your kids like being in the kitchen? If so, what are some of their favorite things to do?



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