Teaching kids how to cook
By Maria Montemayor
Posted on October 4, 2021
Maybe you, like many newcomer parents, want to teach your children how to cook. Whether you are interested in teaching them to cook a traditional dish that reminds them of their heritage, or you would like to teach them how to cook Canadian recipes, the sky’s the limit! So, how can you get started?
Start with food safety
The first thing to do is cover basic hygiene ground rules with your kids, including washing their hands with warm and soapy water before they get started. Also make sure to tie up their hair so that it doesn’t get in the food.
Let them help you clean utensils, cooking supplies, countertops, and other surface areas where you will be prepping the ingredients.
How can children of different age groups help with cooking?
18 months to 3 years old
Starting from 18 months, you can teach your kids to feel comfortable in the kitchen and with seeing and touching ingredients. Here’s what you can do:
- Describe the different food: the shape, size, colour, smell, taste, texture, etc.
- Have them help you open and close cabinet and fridge doors.
- Have them help you hold items like bowls.
- Let them assist you in washing fruits and vegetables.
- Guide them in mixing ingredients.
- Let them play with safe kitchen tools or buy them a toy kitchen set to play with.
- Let them taste test your cooking.
4 to 6 years old
In addition to the activities included for children 18 months to 3 years old, once kids get to 4 years old, they can start doing more advanced kitchen activities, both on their own and with you.
- Let them retrieve ingredients from the fridge.
- Allow them to pour, stir, and mix ingredients.
- Have them knead dough and go over it with a rolling pin.
- Let them measure the ingredients.
- Have them peel hard-boiled eggs and oranges.
- Ask them to set the table.
While these activities are mostly prep work, you can start assisting them with simple and fun recipes like making simple sandwiches or building their own pizza. Make sure the crust is ready and the cheese is grated. Have them apply the cheese, tomato sauce, and other toppings and you can put the pizzas in the oven.
7 to 8 years old
From 7 to 8 years old, kids are ready and willing to work in teams. They can also start taking charge in the kitchen.
- Let them read the recipe and instructions and assign tasks to other family members.
- Guide and direct them on how to use a knife.
- Have them crack eggs.
- Allow them to make recipes on their own, like salads.
- Have them peel items like potatoes, apples, etc.
- Have them help you clean the kitchen.
9 years old up
Once your kids reach 9 years old, their attention span is longer; their coordination is also better, and they can be more independent when it comes to cooking recipes.
- Let them use the knife on their own while you supervise.
- Allow them to create their own menus.
- Let them pack their own lunches.
Benefits of learning how to cook
Cooking is a valuable skill to have whether you are an adult or a child. Children who learn how to cook early on will be able to save on food expenses in the future, since they won’t have to eat out or order food often.
There are also health benefits! People who learn how to cook can have a healthier and more balanced diet overall since they will be aware of the ingredients in their meals. While cooking their own meals, they will be able to control the portions and reduce the amount of calories they consume.
If you start teaching your kids early, you’ll find how quickly they pick up on meal prepping and cooking. They will also be more inclined to eat the meals that they helped prepare (or that they completely prepared). Learning how to cook from their parents can strengthen family bonds and create memories that will last a lifetime!