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How to Enjoy Teaching Children to Cook

By Edited Jun 20, 2016 1 4

Kids Love to Play With Food from an Early Age

Teaching Children to Cook

There are many wonderful cooking activities for kids that you can enjoy with your children. Teaching easy cooking recipes to your children will delight you both and this is a skill that nearly all children will want to learn! Sooner or later, they will grow up and be in a situation where they will need to fix at least some of their own meals. If you start children off at an early age with cooking activities and cooking games for kids, they will be comfortable in the kitchen as adults. It is important, however, that you approach your cooking lessons as FUN … not as some difficult task that they must endure. How do you go about teaching children to cook?

Quick link to cookbooks for kids from Amazon.com

Start by getting an easy to follow cookbook with age appropriate recipes ... or look for some on the internet.

Pre-Schoolers Can Learn to Measure and Pour

Children love to learn how to use measuring cups, pour their own beverages, and mix things together. There are many simple recipes for making homemade play dough in your kitchen. Children also love to make simple beverages such as lemonade or Kool-Aide, and host their own tea parties with their friends and their stuffed animals or dolls. Children also like to make their own snacks. Start by teaching them how to measure a cup of dry Cheerios into a bowl for a snack. Then, teach them to measure and pour a cup of water. They can also toast and butter their own bread. By kindergarten, most young children are able to use a pair of blunt nose scissors to cut herbs like parsley.

Elementary School Children Can Fix their Own Breakfast and Lunch

By the time many children have started school, they should be able to make their own bowl of cereal … at least on Saturday mornings. During the week when everyone is in a hurry, you will want to prepare breakfast for them. On the days they have off, however, they should be able to get a plastic bowl out of the cabinet, add some cereal, pour in the milk, and relax while watching their Saturday cartoons. This will give you a more relaxing morning, as well! However, there are a few steps you can take to make it easier for them. For example, keep their plastic cereal bowls in a bottom cabinet so there will be no need for them to climb on a chair to reach things in an upper cabinet. Keep the cereal and anything else they will need in a convenient location, too. Buy smaller cartons of milk that are easier for them to handle and pour, or put some milk in a small pitcher or similar container. Your children will be quite proud of their ability to fix their own breakfast on the weekends!

In addition, children in elementary school can also learn to make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or bologna sandwiches and similar simple meals. In the later elementary years, they can be taught to operate a microwave, which will allow them to also make microwave popcorn, heat soup, and perform similar chores. You may also want to buy a no-cook cookbook for your children.

Easy Baking Recipes for Kids

Children love cookies, and they are thrilled to be able to help cook them. The first few times, you should start with a boxed cookie mix because there are so few ingredients that they will have to add themselves. Later, you can help them pick out recipes from a cookbook, and help them learn to bake cookies from scratch. Eventually, they will want to try to make their own cakes and pies. Again, you will want to start simple. For cakes, use a boxed cake mix and pre-made icing, until they are ready to try something more difficult. For pies, you can start with store bought graham cracker pie crust in a tin foil pan and add a simple pudding based filling, such as chocolate pudding. No matter how simple the recipe, your children will be proud to show it off and brag to their friends about the cookies, cakes or pies that they have made "all by themselves." Be enthusiastic and tell them how great it tastes and how proud you are of them! Also, use caution if your recipes contain raw eggs. If so, you will not want children to lick the bowl, because they could become seriously ill.

Cooking Lessons for Children

When your children are ready to cook, set up your kitchen to help them be successful. Do whatever you can to make it fun and easy for your children. Buy them an apron … and don't scold them if they get food on their clothes anyway! You may also want to have a sturdy stool in the kitchen, so they can stand at the counter. Or, with young children, you might want to have a child's table in the corner. This will be a great place for them to sit and stir cake mix, cut up herbs, or perform other simple tasks in comfort.

Easy Cooking Recipes for Kids

Elementary school children can enjoy helping you make an occasional dinner. Teach them how to tear lettuce up for a salad. You can also have some precut vegetables in a bag that they can add to the salad. Show them how to toss a little dressing into the salad. You can also let them help you in put together a casserole, or make a meal in a crock pot. Buy them a cookbook of easy recipes. By the time they are out of high school, most kids can feel very competent in the kitchen, if they have been allowed to help.

Start a Kitchen Garden

If you want your children to really get excited about cooking, help them start a little kitchen garden. It can be as simple as a small window sill herb garden where they grow a bit of parsley. Or, you can start a little container garden on the patio and grow your own tomato plants, carrots, lettuce and a few other simple vegetables. Young kids, in particular, will love it!

Have Fun Cooking with Kids

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when you teach children to cook is to keep it fun and relaxed. Don't make cooking an every day chore for elementary school children. Try adding food color to the mashed potatoes, or have a dinner that is entirely made up of various healthy appetizers, or fondue. Be creative, and they will love the adventure!

Expect a few Kitchen Disasters

Milk will be spilt … you can count on it. In addition, a few glasses will be dropped, water will get poured on the floor, flour will sometimes cover the counter tops, and there will be plenty of other messes. This comes with the territory. Eventually, however, your children will learn to be more efficient, and the messes will be fewer. However, things will never be perfect. I still drop bowls once in a while, and I'm a grandmother. Don't set unrealistic standards for your own children! If they enjoy being in the kitchen, they will grow into adults who will sometimes invite you over for a dinner they have prepared themselves. Your cooking lessons will have been a success!

If you have children and teens in your life, you may also be interested in reading these articles:

How to Make Homemade Playdough Crafts

Crochet Projects for Kids

Food Safety Tips for School Lunches

Here's a Terrific Cookbook to Get Your Children Started

Kids' Fun and Healthy Cookbook
Amazon Price: $17.99 $5.00 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 20, 2016)
These recipes are fun, but they are also healthy ways for your children to learn to cook.


Jan 13, 2011 1:03pm
Just love this article. And the photo is adorable! I have a friend who surprises her kids at breakfast with different colored milk in their cereal. Your suggestion for making it fun is so important!
Jan 13, 2011 1:10pm
Thank you! One time my daughters and I made "Green Eggs and Ham" for my husband. It was his favorite children's book to read to them!
Mar 24, 2011 1:46pm
What great tips! My senior mom, who loves gardening, just helped our grandkids with a sunflower seed project. They are SO excited to see those sprouting up already. And I love to get the sugar cookie dough at the store when I visit my long distance grandkids. That saves us time and cleaning, so we can focus on our favorite parts - DECORATING to the MAX. :) Lots of educational fun and great family memories all around. And what great ideas to in the comments as well! LOVED both the colored milk AND the green eggs and ham. Thanks for a delightful visit. :)
Aug 19, 2011 1:25am
Nice article on starting out to raise the next Julia Childs.
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