Cooking with Kids 101…(ages 5 and under)

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Let’s face it…parenting doesn’t usually come with a lot of positive reinforcement. Nor does it come with a handbook on even the most basic concepts, such as getting our kids to eat! Even though I run a successful business cooking with children, my own daughter staged frequent protests at dinner time. Finally a light went on in my head. It was time that I started to practice more of what I teach to my students and their families. She needed to participate more in both the selection and preparation of our family meals!

Here are some tried and true suggestions to help you feel more confident in bringing your kids into the kitchen:

How Do I Start?

  • Read recipe names to your kids and see what sounds good to them.
  • Decide which 3-5 of the approved recipes you plan to make for the following week.
  • Make a master grocery list, so that you only have to go to the market once.
  • Purchase produce at your local farmer’s market. Kids love to eat food they have tasted and approved!

When and How?

  • Select a time of the day when your kids are well fed, happy, and eager to be with you.
  • Start meal preparation earlier in the day, instead of right before dinner. For working families, do this for several meals at a time on the weekend.
  • Before calling kids into the kitchen, get out all of the ingredients and tools required to make the meal.

What Can the Kids Do…even if they are young?

Even toddlers can help you in the kitchen! This list includes tasks for children ages 5 and under. Please use your discretion, as you know your child best.

  • Rinse and dry fruits and veggies
  • Tear up lettuce for salad
  • Break the tips off beans
  • Stir and mix
  • Help to measure
  • Pull cloves of garlic from bulb, and peel the “paper” (skin) off
  • Slice mushrooms, olives and other soft foods with a child-safe knife or with an egg slicer.
  • Crack eggs (do this into a separate bowl, in case you have to fish out bits of shell)
  • Dip chicken or fish in egg and then again in bread crumbs (this is called “dredging”). Kids love when food is “crispy” on the outside!

Some amazing things happened to me (and my family) when I started implementing these concepts. My meals were prepared and ready to go into the oven up to 2 hours (yes, hours) earlier than before. I was relaxed and able to spend quality time with my kids before dinner, after our prep work was finished. And my daughter was very proud of her work and started eating dinner with gusto! I love spending quality time together with my family in the kitchen, as I am sure you will enjoy with yours.



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