5 Reasons to Get Kids in the Kitchen—the Sooner, the Better!



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We’ve heard it before: When kids are involved in meal preparation and cooking, they’re much more likely to try new foods.

Trouble is, it’s not that easy, especially for busy parents. It’s hard enough to get a from-scratch meal on the table most nights of the week, let alone get the kids involved in making it! I don’t know about you, but when my son helps out in the kitchen, it’s messy, slow and not very productive.

But, even with these roadblocks, getting kids involved in cooking has amazing benefits even beyond expanding their palates:

  1. Encourages kids to be curious about new foods and flavours.
  2. Teaches basic–and crucial–safety lessons.
  3. Develops math skills, planning, responsibility, and teaches kids to think of and respect others. 
  4. Fosters creativity, independence, confidence, compassion and generosity. 
  5. Best of all, when kids can cook, then can feed themselves, saving you from making a bazillion snacks, lunches, extra snacks and, eventually, dinners!

Teaching our kids to be capable humans who contribute to the household seems like a great idea, for us parents as well as for the future friends and families of our children.

That’s a heck of an impact from a grilled cheese sandwich.

The good news is that getting kids involved in the kitchen is a lot easier than you might think. Start small, both in tasks and in age. The best time to start is today, no matter how old they are. Check out these easy kitchen tasks and try adding one to your child’s daily routine. It’s worth it, so say yes to the mess and don’t forget to have fun.

Ages 3 to 5

  • Handle foods: Corn, asparagus, cauliflower, bananas, meatballs, bread or pizza dough.
  • Contribute ideas to family meal plan.
  • Help set the table and clear the table.

Ages 6 to 9

All of the above, plus:

  • Easy prep: Chop things like cucumber and bananas, grate cheese.
  • Measure ingredients, stir without making a mess.

Ages 10 to 11

All of the above, plus: 

  • Knife work: more, faster chopping.
  • Easy meals, eg. grilled cheese, spaghetti.
  • Should be able to make their own lunch.

Ages 12 to 14

  • All skills.
  • Some independent meal planning and grocery shopping.
  • Should be able to make a simple meal for the family from start to finish once a month.

Age 15+

  • Cook for the family one to four times a month.

For more from Claire Tansey (including virtual kids’ cooking classes!) check out clairetansey.com or follow at instagram.com/tanseyclaire and facebook.com/clairetanseyskitchen.

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