Cooking is one of those skills that everyone should have. Even if your kids aren’t interested in the kitchen, they should at least know how to make some basic dishes, should they ever have to fend for themselves. There are plenty of ways to start your children off with cooking, but you’ll find that you have less resistance when they are small. Here’s a guide to how to get your kids involved in the kitchen at each age level.
Toddlers love to do what you do, so you’ll have a willing helper at this age. Get them a chair to stand on and have them help you stir things. They can also put pieces of vegetables into a salad bowl and slightly older tots can even tear the lettuce for you. Have them roll out dough and punch out cookies with your help.
At this age, kids are still interested in cooking, but they want to do more on their own. You can let them hold the mixer, measure ingredients and, with very careful supervision, even stir pasta sauce and the like. Introduce cutting at this age with a butter knife and soft fruits and vegetables like bananas. They can also cube their own cheese with a butter knife.
By the time your kids hit this age, they should be pretty familiar with processes in the kitchen. You can start having them cook using the stovetop, with careful supervision. Also, they should be able to learn to use a knife properly at this point, keeping fingers out of the way. Let them start choosing which recipes they want to make and introduce them to cakes, lasagna and other more complicated dishes.
Preteens are more than ready to take on some serious responsibility. They can help pick the recipes for meals and even execute them. Let them try new recipes that they find online and permit them to make some dishes on their own, with minimal supervision. You’ll find that at this age, kids like to experiment, so don’t be surprised if you see some purple pancakes or lime fish coming your way . . . it’s all part of the experience.
Your teen should be capable of planning, shopping and executing at least one meal a week. They will likely grumble over this, but just remember, when they are out on their own or at college, all these years of cooking will stand them in good stead . . . and make them popular with their friends! Freedom to cook what they want should be granted to teens since it will help them expand their culinary horizons.
It’s a shame that more parents aren’t letting their children learn to cook at a relatively early age. This is a skill that we can all use and kids are often capable of far more than we realize. Let your kids start hanging out in the kitchen and encourage them to get cooking! The rewards will be many down the road.