Written By: Mikaela Zamarron
There are many benefits to making mealtime a family affair. Incorporating a partner and/or your children in meal planning and cooking can help make mealtime easier and more fun!
It can be hard to please everyone when planning the meals for the week by yourself, so sitting down with your family and having everyone contribute their ideas can help make everyone happy. If you have multiple children, you can assign them the task of planning what is for dinner one day of the week. Including your children will help build healthy relationships with cooking and healthy eating.
Are you struggling with a picky eater? When children have a role in their food, from growing to preparing it, they often are more interested in trying it! Imagine if you didn’t know what you were eating – you would probably be more hesitant to try it, and the same goes for your kiddo! Here are some suggestions for things kids can help with when including them in the kitchen.
Kids 2 and younger can:
- Play with plastic measuring cups, spoons, containers or a bowl of water
- Learn to say names and colors of foods being used
- Smell foods and, depending on the food, taste small amounts
3-year-old kids can:
- Rinse and scrub fresh produce
- Tear, snap or break foods
- Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes in dough
- Pluck fruits or leaves from stems
- Dip foods into sauces and dips
- Arrange foods on a plate
- Help stir ingredients together in a bowl
4-year-old kids can:
- Measure ingredients
- Cut with a plastic or dull butter knife
- Squeeze juice from fruits
- Shake ingredients in small containers, such as jars or zip-top bags
Let 5-year-olds try to:
- Help grate cheeses and vegetables
- Crack and beat eggs
- Peel oranges
Let 6-8-year-olds help:
- Read the recipe
- Crack eggs
- Measure small amounts of ingredients
- Use an eggbeater
- Rinse, scrub, and peel onions, carrots, cucumbers, and other produce
- Grate cheese and vegetables
- Decorate cookies
- Spread soft frostings and spreads
- Roll out and shape dough
- Cut soft foods with a plastic or dull butter knife
Let 9-13-year-olds start to:
- Follow recipes and make simple meals by themselves
- Use electrical tools like blenders and mixers
- Open cans
- Drain cooked pasta in a colander
- Remove trays from the oven with adult supervision
While these are suggestions, and not hard fast rules, they are good starting points to incorporate your kids in the kitchen. We recommend starting off with very simple tasks to gauge your child’s abilities and always supervise them when in the kitchen.
Finally, make sure you include kids in the clean up! It will make it easier on you and teach them good habits in the kitchen. Cleaning as you go is an important part of the cooking process.
Hopefully you feel inspired to include your kiddos in the kitchen! Let us know if you found these suggestions helpful and what works for you.