Kids love to cook with mom. They do! The kitchen is one of the best places for kids to learn…to learn about science, about flavors, and about balanced nutrition.
Putting kids to work in the kitchen almost guarantees they’ll be excited to eat the result. In fact, we’ve found that getting our kids involved in the cooking process is one of the only ways to get them to eat the stuff they don’t want to eat. (Vegetables, we’re looking at you!)
So, how can you involve your children in everyday meal prep? Here are a few suggestions for rallying the troops.
Toddler – 4 Years Old
Kids this young are still developing their fine motor skills, and the kitchen is a great place to work on them. We like to have our young ones do imprecise tasks like tearing herbs off the stem, rolling meatballs into ball form, or whisking together a bowl full of dressing. At this age, it’s all about the feeling of “helping” and learning to appreciate each individual ingredient for what it is, even if it’s green!
4 Years Old – 7 Years Old
Kindergarten-aged kids are a little more likely to want to take ownership over something. They take a lot of pride in accomplishing a task all on their own! This is a great age for mom to let kids handle something safe but important, like skewering vegetables and sausage slices onto a skewer. Other ways to help include pouring ingredients into measuring cups, peeling fruit and vegetables, and scooping ingredients from one bowl to another.
7 Years Old – 12 Years Old
At this age, kids are capable of learning to use a (small) knife. Of course, you shouldn’t leave a first grader unattended with a knife, but you should be showing them proper holding techniques and how to slice on a cutting board. It’s also the right time to start talking about heat safety and allowing kids to stir hot food on the stove and maybe even open the oven with adult supervision.
12 Years Old – 16 Years Old
It’s time to let your budding chef have some independence! Kids this age are usually capable of making an entire dish (or even a whole meal!) on their own, but you should always check to see what’s on the menu to make sure there’s nothing dangerous involved. Sausage dishes, sheet pan dinners, and soups are ideal for young cooks because they’re forgiving and flavorful at the same time.
Papa Cantella’s was built around the idea of family cooking. Our mothers have been teaching us some of life’s most important lessons in the kitchen for decades; it’s where most of our fondest memories were formed. We love the idea of cooking with your kids, not just for your kids.
Does your little one love to help with a particular kitchen task? We’d like to hear about it! Tell us over at the Papa Cantella’s Facebook page.