Research show that when kids are active in the cooking process, they’re more likely to eat their vegetables and less likely to be picky eaters. They also learn valuable skills and get to know more about the important nutritional aspects of food. But before you put a chef’s knife in the hands of a two-year-old, look at our guide for age appropriate kitchen tasks!
We’ve seen kids on shows like Chopped Junior and Junior MasterChef that create masterpieces in the kitchen, putting adults to shame. But they all start somewhere, and for all you know you could be raising the next Gordon Ramsay (without the swearing, of course!). Get your kids involved in the kitchen from a young age and help them grow a love for cooking!
Have your small children wash the fresh produce and make it an opportunity to learn the names of the fruits and vegetables. If you’re baking, let them knead the dough or have them sprinkle the counter with flour.
If you’re making mashed potatoes, they can help you with the mashing process by using a fork or potato masher. But be warned…you won’t get super smooth mash the first time around. It will take some practice!
At this stage, your kids can cut softer food items (mushrooms or butter) with a plastic knife. They can also help you to assemble a salad by tearing and washing lettuce and herbs, or squeezing lemon juice.
Baking cookies is a great way to get toddlers involved. Let them cut out cookies and decorate them with icing. They can also help you with clean-up by washing plastic containers and cutlery. Remember to double-check all dishes washed by little hands, they might not be sparkly clean!
By now your kids can start using a small knife to chop fruits and veggies. It’s important to show them the correct way of holding a knife and cut in such a way that their fingers are away from the blade. They can also stir sauce on the stove, help you to sift flour when baking, and crack eggs when needed.
Let them measure and weigh out ingredients when you’re baking. It’s also a great way to incorporate their basic math and reading skills.
Getting the kids involved in the kitchen will likely turn out in a messy situation, so be prepared to do a big clean-up afterwards. You can set up your kitchen table with easy-to-clean plastic table cloth that will make wiping down effortless.
Make sure they’re ready for the kitchen. Tie back long hair, give them an apron, and remind them to regularly wash their hands. Make sure that they understand the importance of keeping raw food separate for cooked food.
Having you little ones help in the kitchen will take dedication and patience, but when they start spoiling you with breakfast in bed, you will be grateful you persevered!