Most kids think helping in the kitchen is FUN! Getting them involved in the cooking process is a great way to A. get some help for yourself, B. encourage them to try new foods, and C. teach them about food. It can even start before the kitchen by looking through cookbooks with them to find recipes to try or having them pick out a new food at the grocery store. Having a garden, they can help manage, is a great way to spark their interest in new vegetables. You could also get them their own tools (measuring cups and spoons) and apron to make it even more exciting for them! William Sonoma has some cute kids tools and aprons!
Appropriate aged tasks for kids:
2-year-olds can: • Wipe tabletops • Wash fruits and vegetables • Tear lettuce or greens • Break cauliflower or broccoli into pieces • Carry ingredients from one place to another
3-year-olds can: • Knead and shape dough • Mix or pour ingredients • Shake liquids in a covered container to mix them • Apply soft spreads • Put things in the trash
4-year-olds can: • Peel oranges or hard-boiled eggs • Mash bananas or cooked beans with a fork • Cut parsley and green onions with kid-safe scissors • Set the table
5 to 6-year-olds can: • Measure ingredients • Use an egg beater
7 to 8-year-olds can: • Crack an egg • Learn about fractions and conversions (3 tsp=1Tbsp) • Wash dishes
Let them be creative:
Lunch or a snack at home is a great time for your kids to try out their kitchen skills. I love it when my kids say, “Mom, I can make my lunch today!” Together, gather some choices and let them create their own masterpiece.
- Whole grain crackers or graham crackers
- Rice cakes or popcorn cakes
- Small bagels
- Pita bread
Spreads could include:
- Cream cheese
- Nut butter
- Hummus or bean dip
- Jelly or jam
Toppings could include:
- Slices of apple or banana
- Raisins or other dried fruit
- Slices of cucumber or squash
- Cherry tomatoes cut in small pieces
Talk about which food groups are in the snack or sandwich. Explain that eating a variety foods helps your body get the nutrients it needs. Talk about why the snack or sandwich tastes good. Is it sweet, juicy, chewy, or crunchy?
Teach your kids to always wash their hands before preparing food and after too. Try to be patient with spills and mistakes. Remember that the goal is to let your kids help and in return try new foods! Be open to the fact that they may not like the food. Just as adults have food likes and dislikes, kids do too! Applaud them for trying it and talk about how taste buds can change which makes trying new foods a lifelong endeavor.