15 answers

Teaching Kids to Cook

When have you begun to teach your school age children how to prepare and cook food?

My girls know how to prepare food that requires no cooking (cereal, sandwiches, washing fruit/veggies, etc.) and have learned how to use the toaster. They have occasionally helped me at the stove but not too often. They have also helped me put ingredients in bowls to stir and in the food processor/blender and pushed the buttons. Mostly the things they haven't been taught how to do are working at the stove consistently, handling raw meat, using a knife, using the oven (beyond pushing the buttons to turn it on), or operating the microwave (in our new house it is directly above the stove so it isn't in a very user friendly location for teaching.)

I want my children to grow up being comfortable in the kitchen and have a healthy understanding of food preparation/choices. Also, I would love to have this time with them to be another connecting point in our relationship that we don't always have in our busy daily lives. Since I can be quite a worrier, I've hesitated in opening up the kitchen fully for them to learn everything (with adult supervision of course!). They are so eager to learn everything and I want to provide opportunities when they are ready for them not based on my tend to worry about the "what might happen if...."

Thanks for any encouraging replies. :)

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I started at TWO.....helping put things in bowls, etc. I taught pre-school to 3 & 4 year olds and we cooked EVERY day except field trips days. These kids LOVED it and 10 years later are healthy ...NOT overweight and have a passion for good health and nutrition. My six year old picks out berries, etc at the store. We smell EVERY spice, herb, etc to develop sense of smell, too. We talk about HOW they grow, WHERE they grow, etc. She understands WHY we need certain foods ....skin, muscles, eyes, brain, etc. If you don't know......do some homework and learn WITH them. It's worth EVERY second you put into it!

More Answers

I started at TWO.....helping put things in bowls, etc. I taught pre-school to 3 & 4 year olds and we cooked EVERY day except field trips days. These kids LOVED it and 10 years later are healthy ...NOT overweight and have a passion for good health and nutrition. My six year old picks out berries, etc at the store. We smell EVERY spice, herb, etc to develop sense of smell, too. We talk about HOW they grow, WHERE they grow, etc. She understands WHY we need certain foods ....skin, muscles, eyes, brain, etc. If you don't know......do some homework and learn WITH them. It's worth EVERY second you put into it!

My son loves the kitchen. He's 5. He has helped prepare most meals, no matter who is cooking. Him and his grandfather love to cook together whether it be breakfast with pancakes, soups for lunch or dinner on the grill. We bake cookies and cakes together.
I started when he was REALLY young. He use to not cry if he was watching me make his food, his bottle and baby cereal. So I held him and made them. Since then, there has never been a time that I haven't prevent him from helping, trying his own thing with age limitations and such. He puts things into the oven now but does not take them out. Depending on whats on the stove he can put things on the stove, but again not take them off. He LOVES to eat healthy foods, and has an amazing diet. I think the cooking helps!
Continue to have them help as you feel they are capable and you are comfortable! Best of Luck!

Basically I first taught the how to measure.. When they could recognise the diference between T. and t. ( for teaspoon ) and 1/2 and 1.4 cup, things like that... I taught them the proper names of all appliances, and tools,, ( I.E. toaster vs. toaster oven, convection oven, ladel, spatula, things like that,, then bought them each a cake mix and let 'em go. When they show an interest is when I started teaching them.. Now my two older kids have dinner night when they each have a turn making dinner, ( no, not fish sticks and fries,, usually a pot roast dinner w/ homemade rolls or something,,) and we also have an 8 yr. old special needs who'se showing an interest in cooking.. Since she's VERY delayed we have her help out and go through the steps with her,, but she knows the difference between a wire wisk, and a mixing spoon, a cooking sheet, a bundt pan, etc... and does very well though she does not know how to read.. she still remembers how much of what to put into a cake mix, or she can do pancakes from start to finish.. Basically continue what you are doing by allowing them to help in the kitchen.. then move them on to more challenging things as long as they understand the danget behind it all and stay alert to it.. ( like no fingers in the mixing bowl while the mixer is going, no metal in the microwave, etc.
Good luck and I hope this all helps.
A.

Look for the Spatulata Cookbook. We bought it through Scholastic. Written by two sisters and has many ways to cook/prepare recipes. You should trust your own instincts on safety issues as to when they can cook 'on their own'. Be sure to teach them knife safety, so they do not get into your circle of safety or you get into their's (too close when someone is using a knife) - it is one of the skills I teach in Girl Scouting.

My middle grandson was cooking full meals at age three. He makes perfect mashed potatoes. I even let him put in the salt and pepper. He understands the stove and oven were hot. He never burnt his self. He does very well so much so he wanted an easy bake oven for Christmas but my son refused to get him one because they are all pink. Well he got one and baked like crazy.
I also let him make his own frosting for decorating cookies. His mother says we are making a mess and I say we are making a memory. She has said well my mom wouldn't let him do that. I told her she is missing out on a lot. Besides what's a little bit of powdered sugar on the floor. It all washes up.
I forgot to say we use a veggie peeler a lot. Also small knifes for small hands and he must cut away from him self incase things get out of hand.

Good morning! I love this topic! My daughter is 12 and cooked dinner last week with only minimal supervision. When I first started teaching her, I gathered all the ingredients and put them in separate bowls. We read the recipe together and she put the pre-measured ingredients in as the recipe dictated. Betty Crocker also has a Junior cookbook that is AWESOME! It takes time and patience, but it is worth it. They are never too young to help. You will know when the time is right for them to learn to cut, peel, etc. Every child is different. I also ask her to taste things as they cook and make a decision on if it needs more salt, pepper, etc. It helps them to think and learn to add as they see fit. MOST OF ALL - HAVE FUN!!!!

Hi S.,

There is a wonderful meal assembly kitchen on Polaris parkway called Entree Vous. You can bring your 7year old and 6.5 year old in and they can help prepare as many meals as you like. They will be exposed to all fresh ingredients and the meals are great and truly homemade. Very cost effective also. And the staff cleans up after you. No messy kitchen!!! Their number is ###-###-####.
Hope this helps.

My children are now 18, 11, and 10. Most people was shock when they found out that he (the 18) was able to make a cake without my help. Yes my kids are in the kitchen helping. They do not cook a meal but they have the understanding of the do's and the do not's of the kitchen. I can say that it help them with math when it came down to measurements... This is a wonderful life skill.

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