Tips on teaching young kids to cook

Parents often wonder at what age young kids can learn to cook and start helping out in the kitchen. What is appropriate and what isn’t for them to do? Here is a list of tasks for young kids to help with in the kitchen which can be adapted to suit their age and range of skills.
Parents often wonder at what age young kids can learn to cook and start helping out in the kitchen.

What is appropriate and what isn’t for them to do?

Here is a list of tasks for young kids to help with in the kitchen which can be adapted to suit their age and range of skills.

Tips on teaching young kids to cook

There are 2 year olds who can crack eggs like a seasoned chef and 8 year olds that need strict supervision with a grater, never mind a knife!

You’ll know for your own child what they are capable of doing independently.

Giving young kids plenty of responsibility and getting them involved very early on is key

Here are some benchmarks of what maybe appropriate for your kids.

Cooking skills for kids under 3 years old

1. Washing fruit and vegetables. This is awesome fun, especially if you have a squirty bottle that you can aim at them. If you want to give your toddler maximum independence, a washing up bowl on the kitchen floor or on a tarpaulin enables them to safely wash to their hearts content. If you have a rough child potatoes and broccoli are pretty indestructible!

2. Salad. Making a simple salad by washing and ripping lettuce leaves and then placing it in a bowl is fab. They can add cherry tomatoes, for example, and carry the bowl to the table.

3. Stirring. Children love to stir or mix things. Anything from a sauce to a cake mix.

4. Breaking things into pieces. Pulling apart cauliflower or broccoli, for example.

5. Mashing. Potatoes or soft bananas are easy to have a go at.

6. Sprinkling. Adding salt to a dish or crackers or creating decoration on a cup cake.

7. Spooning into things. Adding a spoonful of something to a dish, or even adding mixture to a muffin tin (if you’re OK with a bit of mess).

8. Measuring using spoons, cups and jugs. This will need serious supervision and an awareness that as one sense gets engaged, often another gets waylaid. Young children are great at focusing on measuring whilst inadvertently tipping the container onto its side!

9. Washing up. Young children can easily wash things like blunt utensils, plastics and chopping boards.

10. Drying dishes. Ditto, making sure things are dry so they can be put away.

11. Wiping down counters. This is surprisingly good fun for littlies.

12. Cookie cutters. Using cutters to make everything from cookies to mini pie lids.

13. Draining and rinsing cans of beans or lentils. 

14. Oiling trays. Young kids find greasing a cake tin or baking dish awesome fun!

15. Shake dressings. Giving our child a mixture of oil, vinegar and herbs for example to mix. A plastic bottle which won't break easily and a tight-fitting lid works best.

16. Press the button on blenders and food processors. Who doesn’t like operating machinery?

17. Kneading dough. Bread can never have enough bashing, so letting young kids expend energy on beating the dough is always good for naps.

18. Fetching and carrying. Little ones love being able to carry things around, especially when it’s something they need to be really careful with.

19. Squeezing juices out of lemons and oranges. Or pushing down on the grated zucchini to drain out the liquid ready for fritters.

20. Spreading butter or cream cheese with a blunt knife. It requires a lot of skill and its great practice.

21. Whizzing things dry in a salad spinner.

22. Picking the leaves off herbs or carefully taking grapes from the vine. All good fine motor practice.

23. Throwing things in the bin. Made twice as exciting if it’s got a push pedal.

24. Whisking.

25. Sieving.

26. Cracking eggs.

27. Washing rice, lentils or other dry goods.

28. Greasing a cake tin or baking dish.


Cooking skills for kids under 3-5 years old

1. Weighing

2. Measuring

3. Crumbing. Dipping chicken for example into flour, then egg then crumbs.

4. Scissors. Safety scissors are great for cutting herbs or leaves like spinach. I love cutting shapes from baby spinach leaves to make them more appealing.

5. Peeling oranges.

6. Using a mortar and pestle or the layman’s version, a sealed plastic bag smacked by a rolling pin.

7. Icing or using a pastry bag to decorate something.

8. Making sandwiches or wraps. Perfect practice for the school lunches.

9. Emptying a bowl and scraping around with a spatula.

10. Putting fruit or meat and veggies onto skewers.

11. Finding ingredients in the cupboard or the fridge.

12. Helping pack the shopping away.

13. Using a rolling pin.

14. Scooping things out eg. avocados.

15. Spooning batter into tins, patty cases.

16. Cutting. Get young kids to use salad knives, which are sharp enough to cut through foods, but not fingers! Start with something simple, softer items such bananas or strawberries.

Source: This article was kindly written for us by The Confident Eater - giving you the tools, the strategies and the confidence to get your picky eater eating.
Image source: Pinterest

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