Health & Wellbeing

How to get kids involved in the kitchen!

We all understand the importance of cultivating healthy eating habits early on in life. Encouraging kids to cook at home not only promotes better nutrition but also instills a sense of responsibility and self-sufficiency. Children can develop a positive relationship with nutritious foods by experimenting with cooking and incorporating many different flavours, fruits, and vegetables into their cooking experiences in the kitchen. But it does need to be an enjoyable experience! 

Up to a third of toddlers between 1-2 years old are considered fussy eaters. Most children grow out of this, but exposing them to new foods will increase their likelihood of tasting them. From about 18 months, you can start to involve your child in food preparation. With young kids, ensuring all kitchen hazards are out of the way first is essential! This includes hot foods, liquids, pot handles, sharp utensils, and cleaning products.  

Under the age of three, kids can have lots of fun just washing fruit and vegetables, taking fruit out of the packaging, and putting them into a fruit bowl. Other fun jobs include mashing food with a fork or potato masher, sprinkling sugar or flour, or spooning ingredients onto the kitchen scales with your help. It can be messy but it will be fun for the child!  The next step between 3-5 years can be cutting soft ingredients with a plastic knife, e.g. butter or strawberries. Mixing, sieving, kneading, and rolling are all fun cooking activities, as well as decorating foods like a bowl of porridge or pizza!  

Between ages 5 and 7, you can consider buying your child a small knife designed for young chefs or using a small adult knife. It’s always important to consider your child’s ability, and whether or not you are comfortable with this. It is important to always keep an eye on them as it’s very easy for them to slip, even for an adult! At this age, it can also be great to get them to cut herbs with small scissors or children’s scissors. Encourage them to smell the herbs and describe what they smell like. Measuring ingredients is also a great opportunity to help them practice reading numbers. And why not start getting them to help set the table, serve food during a family meal, and put dishes in the sink or dishwasher after dinner.  

The next phase at about 8 years old is using a peeler, grating foods, and using the hob, microwave, or oven. And by age 12, children can take the role of chef for a meal a week or give them a part of dinner or dessert to prepare. You could try creating a “Chef of the Week” Program. Designate each child as the “Chef of the Week” rotating. During their week, let them be in charge of selecting recipes and assisting with meal preparation. Remember, even older children may require supervision in the kitchen as cuts and burns are common at any age but you will know your child best.  This approach fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility while allowing them to explore their creativity in the kitchen. 

Teaching kids to cook at home is a rewarding and valuable endeavour. By making the experience enjoyable, educational, and engaging, kids are likelier to develop a more positive attitude towards cooking and nutritious foods. The goal is to empower children to take charge of their health and well-being while enjoying the benefits of cooking with fresh, wholesome ingredients and having fun!  

To top