The first thing to know about cooking with children is that it will take more time. Set aside a specific time to cook with your children. Weekdays tend to have overwhelmingly long to-do list and you might not have time to cook with your children or to cook at all. Therefore, making time to cook with your children may be best on weekends or on days off!
Involving children during cooking can help them feel more encouraged and willing to try foods that they claim to dislike. Try to include one ingredient that you know they enjoy to decrease the novelty of a new recipe. It is very common that young children experience food neophobia, or the fear to try foods they have never been exposed to. Children need multiple exposures before they are willing to accept a new food (sometimes up to 8-10 times). Exposing children to a variety of different foods is key to get them to accept healthy food when they are older. Also, be patient! Resist the urge to do things yourself, the more skills they start to learn on their own the faster they will become and the more you are helping them in the long run.
Here are some tips on how to include children at different ages3,4:
This age group requires close supervision, a lot of space, and large bowls. At this age children can do the following task without (mostly) any help:
- Squeezing lemons or limes using a plastic juicer3
- Washing produce in the sink3
- Picking fresh herb leaves off stems and ripping them into small pieces3
- Tearing up lettuce3
- Brushing oil with a pastry brush3
- Whisking together vinaigrettes3
- Wiping tabletops4
- Breaking cauliflower up into pieces4
- Carrying ingredients from one place to the other4
- Mixing ingredients4
- Putting things in the trash4
- Consider using recipes with minimal ingredients such as a salad or a pizza (make an assembly line of adding ingredients to make it more fun!)4
- Peel oranges or hard-boiled eggs4
- Mash bananas or cooked beans with a fork4
- Cut parsley and green onions with kid-safe scissors4
- Measure ingredients4
This age group has more advanced motor skills and can, therefore, take on more adult task such as:
- Dicing and mincing vegetables (adult supervision needed!) not with a real knife use plastic knife and soft vegetables that can be cut by them like bell peppers3
- Grating cheese3
- Peeling raw potatoes, mango, or other FV with a peeler (assistance required) 3
- Slicing and scooping out avocados3
- Greasing pans3
- Measuring ingredients with measuring spoons3
- Forming evenly sized cookies and patties3
- Pouring liquids into other containers3
- Using a pizza cutter/ can opener
- Scooping batter into muffin cups
- Putting away leftovers
- Pounding chicken
- Slicing bread
- This age group can use a chef’s knife and start to work more independently
- Helping you during the menu planning
- Here are some pdf handouts you can use to get them involved!
- Help you set the table
- Help read out ingredients
- “Sous-chef” by having them help you hand you ingredients, crack eggs, sprinkle herbs, chop veggies, and taste test a dish
- If a child is older you can be the sous- chef and they can be the head chef!
- Give frequent reminders about what is OK to touch and what can hurt them
- Discuss kitchen task that are for adults and kitchen task that are for children
- Establish kitchen rules such as always washing your hands before and after touching an ingredient
- Tips for getting cooking with kids. June 2015. Internet: http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/tips-for-getting-cooking-with-kids/ (accessed 4 July 2017).
- How to Teach Your Kids to Chop Safely-1 Minute Tips. May 2015. Internet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlzErmyoiX0 (accessed 4 July 2017).
- Food Network. How to Safely Include Kids in the Kitchen. Internet: http://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/articles/how-to-safely-include-kids-in-the-kitchen (accessed 4 July 2017).
- National Health Lung Institute. Parent Tips- Getting Kids in the Kitchen. Internet: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/downloads/cookwithchildren.pdf (accessed 4 July 2017).
- Yummy Mummy Club. Seven Easy Ways to Include Your Kids in the Kitchen. November 2012. Internet: http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/sarah-remmer-the-non-diet-dietitian/20121116/seven-easy-ways-to-include-your-kids-in-the (accessed 4 July 2017).
- Kids Health. Cooking with Kids. Internet: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/kids-cook.html (accessed 4 July 2017).
- Extension Food Utah State University-Food $ense. Menu Planning Ages 2-5. Internet: https://extension.usu.edu/foodsense/ou-files/Menu_Planning_2_3.pdf (accessed July 5 2017)
- Extension Food Utah State University-Food $ense. Menu Planning Ages 6-10. Internet: https://extension.usu.edu/foodsense/ou-files/Menu_Planning_6_10.pdf (accessed July 5 2017)
- Header: Together Counts. Including Kids in Cooking. April 2012. Internet: http://blog.togethercounts.com/including-kids-in-cooking/ (accessed 26 July 2017)
- Epicurious. Cooking with Kids. Internet: http://www.epicurious.com/archive/everydaycooking/family/cooking-with-kids (accessed 27 July 2017).
- Chefs and Flo. Ateliers. Internet: http://www.chefsandflo.com/ateliers/ (accessed 27 July 2016).
- At home. Let’s get our children cooking! Internet: http://www.athomemagazine.co.uk/lets-get-our-children-cooking/ (accessed 27 July 2017).
- Community Table. Ideas to Get the Kids Cooking this Summer. July 2015. Internet: https://communitytable.parade.com/419227/aliceknisleymatthias-2/ideas-to-get-the-kids-cooking-this-summer/ (accessed 27 July 2017).
- Sharp Cook. Pre-Teen Cooking Academy. Internet: http://www.sharpcook.com/youth_pre-teen_cooking_classes.htm (accessed 27 July 2017).