Introducing Your Children to the Art of Cooking

There are many worthwhile benefits of teaching the youngest members of the family to joining you in the kitchen and learning how to cook.

Teaching Your Children to Cook

Cooking together helps to produce a long-term positive attitude towards food, cooking, and eating, as well as bringing the family closer together, especially during the holidays.  This would definitely be one of those activities considered quality family time.

So many unfortunate kids grow up never learning how to cook and are at a loss when they finally move out and have to fend for themselves, not to mention the long term health effects caused by eating an excessive amount of fast foods, which often happens when one does not know how to cook.

So how do you get the little ones involved when it comes time to prepare a meal? You can start with a conversation about what they might want to eat, making some delicious suggestions, making the grocery list, and going to the grocery store together.

Some delicious, but relatively easy dishes to prepare that are kid and adult friendly are listed below. Things like casseroles or some cleverly put together and hearty sandwiches might be a nice place to start.

Obviously, stay away from dangerous preparation techniques such as deep-frying.

Be enthusiastic, because if you love cooking, eating, and being in the kitchen chances are your offspring will acquire the same enthusiasm.

Now for the fun part, ideas for actual dishes you can prepare together.

  • Teriyaki salmon and veggies cooked in the oven wrapped in foil packets (Yes, even the unsophisticated palates love salmon, especially with sweet teriyaki sauce!)
  • Pasta with a varieties of salsas (Pesto and Fettuccini Alfredo being two of my favorites and loved by all)
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches, the common variety, or you can find several gourmet styles which involve more ingredients but are still, very fun and easy to prepare
  • Pasta salads
  • Fajitas
  • Casseroles
  • Baked fish fingers
  • Pita pocket sandwiches
  • Pizza
  • Frittatas
  • Tarts
  • Tuna melts

Now that you have picked out the dish of your choice, teach your young one where to find the ingredients in the store as all grocery stores are basically set up the same way.

Once at home put on some good music, prepare some refreshing beverages and star t preparing the meal. Be patient and go slow, allowing your juvenile cooking partners to actually do some (or most) of the work.

You can divide the meal preparation into steps doing one step yourself while your son or daughter conquers another step completely on their own or you can do each step together. This will depend largely on the age of the student.

Introducing Your Kids to Cooking

Be sure to lavish them with compliments on how well they are doing to create a sense of self-confidence and pleasure related to cooking.

Make it fun!

Cooking does not have to be so serious and your pupils will appreciate the one on one attention. Everybody loves a fun and enthusiastic teacher.

When breakfast, lunch, or dinner is finally finished the whole family will relish the time together, eating, relaxing and enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Don’t forget to set a good example regarding the after meal clean up. This is yet another integral part of cooking. Nobody likes a guest or a partner who does not dig in and help out when preparation and cleaning up is concerned.

The kitchen should be left sparkling clean and kids make great helpers!

Photo credits: Shutterstock.

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About Lori Jo Hendrix

Lori was born in southern California and currently resides in Mexico. She is an actress and model who also writes in the fields of nutrition, wellness, and cuisine. Her passions include working as a volunteer with various groups in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured animals.

123 thoughts on “Introducing Your Children to the Art of Cooking

  1. This is a wonderful article! A great way for children to learn about different types of foods. An early introduction to healthy foods should start I feel at a young age and this is a terrific way of doing it! It also is a great way to spend time with the family!

    • Thank you fancyface! I am happy you enjoyed my article and feel the same way I do. Yes, this is a lovely way to spend time with family.

  2. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my mother and me in the kitchen preparing a meal. I think that getting children involved in meal preparation is a great way to teach them about nutrition while creating treasured memories.

    • Hi Nids,

      I too have some wonderful memories with my Mother in the kitchen. I remember when we would have certain “nights” l like Chinese stir fry night and I would look forward to that night all week.

  3. I too have fond memories about cooking with my Mom, and my Nan. Pizza’s are one of the best foods to prepare with children, you get the freedom to add any topping, work on the presentation, and enjoy the end results.

    • Hi PhilA,

      I love to load Pizzas with veggies and use a homemade salsa so there are no preservatives. This is much easier than people think. My mother in law even makes me homemade pitta breads when she visits me so I can keep them in the freezer and make pitta bread pizzas. I think her’s are the best! Nothing like cooking as a family!

  4. I can remember when my mom would let me help cook as a child. She made it all kinds of fun. I did the same thing with my kids. We started out making theme pancakes in shapes and using molds. Then moved on to grilled cheese sandwiches, which of course almost every child loves. My favorite was always when we made treats together. They loved helping make cookies or krispy treats and then licking the spoons. Finding fun ways to teach your children a love for cooking isn’t hard and can make some great life long memories.

    • Hi askanison,

      Did you ever try using the cookie cutters to make grilled cheese sandwich shapes and molds? That would also be a lot of fun. Oh wow, I remember making the Rice Krispy Treats, I loved making those! Thank you for sharing and bringing back some of my fond memories.

  5. My mom used to get me involved in cooking, it was always a lot of fun and I felt accomplished, I can’t wait to do the same with my kids

    • Hi ItsZiggy,

      True, when children cook they do feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. Very important!

  6. I wish my parents had done more to get me interested in cooking. That would have probably led to much healthier eating decisions throughout my early adulthood, for one. Every parent needs to follow this guide and get their kids passionate about cooking!

  7. This is a great article with some excellent tips for how to go about getting your kids involved in cooking. I loved doing this sort of thing with my parents, and it was good family time. We would all be involved, and even after the meal we all helped to clean up. These are the sorts of memories that kids can cherish, as well as learning from their parents about food, cooking, how to use equipment, and of course technique.

    My husband’s mother never did this with her children, and so my husband has very little enjoyment of cooking or eating, and he is often surprised by my enthusiasm! I think it’s a shame when people don’t invest this time with their children.

    • Hi Portia88,

      Thank you very much! I am glad you enjoyed it.

      I guess I am lucky, my husband grew up in the kitchen helping his Mother out and in the process learning how to cook delicious food and enjoying it! Now we both enjoy cooking together which has led to a lot of my food related writing. Perhaps you could get your husband more involved somehow and make it a fun time for both of you. Put some music on, open a bottle of wine…

      Good luck!

  8. Awesome article, i always enjoyed being the little helper in the kitchen with my mom, my favorite breakfast dish to prepare was pancakes and i remember i’d be chomping and munching way before we even set the breakfast table, it was an amazing time…i ought to pass the baton down to the little visitors when they come home to stay in the near future :).

    • Hi dianethare,

      Thank you! I am happy you enjoyed it. Did you ever accidentally make those tiny baby pancakes when cooking with your Mom? You know when the batter would drip onto the griddle? I used to love to eat those tiny morsels while we were cooking. As a matter of fact I still to eat those baby ones and enjoy them. I get hungry while cooking!

      Regards,

      Lori H.

      • Pssst!… {whispering} i thought i was the only one who used to do that 🙂 ..it sure feels good to have a ‘friend in crime’ 😉 …and yes, i still do that {shy smile}.

        • Hi dianethare,

          Hahahahaha, yes! They are just too cute to resist! Tiny food is always fun. Your secret is safe with me 😉 Hehehe.

          Regards,

          Lori H.

  9. My personal opinion is this should be mandatory in all households. My daughter was barely able to see over the top of the stove, in fact she was about nose level with the top when I first put her in the kitchen. Oh everyone had their fits, said she’d get burned, she was too little, etc. etc., but the first time my child experienced a grease pop she was 14 and making a fried egg. Today she is better than me in the kitchen and can put together spices that would make you slap someone silly. Teach the children!

    • I wish that my parents would have taught me how to cook when I was younger. I would have saved so much money in college. There is an independence in being able to feed yourself. And its a great way to expand on your creativity. Let the children be taught the ways of cooking!

      • Hi joeq1159,

        It must have been quite a shock to leave home for the first time and then not know how to prepare food! Usually students who can’t cook resort to inexpensive and unhealthy fast foods.

        I love the thought that although I love going out to dinner there is a great satisfaction knowing if I want I can make myself dishes that are just as delicious.

        Regards,

        Lori

  10. It’s really cute activity! Soon I’ll be having a baby girl and wanted to try this kind of bonding though. I can see that its going to be messy, but its a healthy and cool way of family time. I am thinking if I could ask my husband to join as well since he is also an amazing cook in the house!

    • Hi RissMe,

      Yes it is! Congratulations on your soon to be born baby girl. They say the heart of the home is in the kitchen, a very good place to spend family time. Of course ask your husband to join, even more fun, and more skills to share with each other. Often if I am unsure about something my husband will know and it make things go much smoother. It will also be more fun and have more of an impact on your daughter to see Mom and Dad together in the kitchen.

      Have fun!

      Regards,

      Lori

  11. Teaching children the art of cooking can instill so many values and skills which can not be attained in a school setting to the extent of what is learned in the home. I enjoyed every moment of cooking with my Mother and Grandfather, I learned so much. We all grew so close because of those moments.

    • Hi Kael,

      This is so true, nothing like being taught at home an by family. How fortunate you got to cook with your Grandfather as well. I imagine you have some wonderful family recipes to pass along.

      Regards,

      Lori

  12. Cooking with kids is always fun! They are usually very eager to learn and help. You can assign them little tasks and they’ll be so proud after. Setting the foundation for kitchen knowledge is a skill they’ll use for the rest of their lives. I wish I had cooked more when i was younger.

  13. My mum never really enjoyed cooking, but still found time to involve me in the simple recipes that she did make, not just the obviously child-friendly ones like cake-making, but I definitely recall learning how to make cottage pie and spaghetti bolognese at about 8 or 9 years old. She obviously did a good job of getting me enthused because it wasn’t until I was much older that I realised how little she actually likes being in the kitchen!

    Now that it’s my turn to pass on the love for cooking to my little brood, I’m trying to do as well as she did in making it an everyday part of life as well as an occasional treat, so I’m always on the lookout for articles like this with some good ideas that I can take into my own kitchen. Thanks very much!

  14. i don’t even have kids yet, but I love thinking of ways I’ll involve them in the kitchen. It’s very important, not just to learn how to cook, but all of the things that cooking can teach you.

    • Hi js85,

      Yes, things like family team work, learning about nutrition, having fun, bonding with family and friends. For me, cooking for somebody or with somebody is a form of giving and showing love.

      Regards,

      Lori

  15. Kids surely do love to get messy in the kitchen, and most of all they love the sense of reward of tasting something they did make. I agree it’s a lovely time to spend with them and it surely gets them aware about the world of nutrition and the origin of food. My little ones love preparing muffins and biscuits together, mostly sweet things, and when the season is right we go foraging together, pick up blueberries or raspberries and end up having a muffin and hot chocolate treat for all the family.

    • Hola allaballa,

      Oh that sounds wonderful! Foraging for fresh organic berries and then enjoying the hot muffins and hot chocolate. I think I will go make a hot chocolate now in fact! What a lovely family life you have.

      Regards,

      Lori H.

  16. I love cooking with my children and they all love cooking and ask to help – the older two often say ‘can I cook dinner tonight Mum?’

    As well as all the good points you raised, I think cooking is a useful way to develop maths, fine motor and conversational skills. Plus it is an easy time to have great discussions like where a food originated and thus how different countries have different traditional foods (building respect for others along the way), or how certain choices are healthier, or how you can adjust a recipe at need (good problem solving techniques at a level they can understand).

    Other ideas for cooking meals with kids:
    – My son is becoming a salad dressing expert as he has helped me make so many of them – they are very easy and really contribute to a meal which is important.
    – generally making a salad is a good one, too
    – preparing things for a roast
    – fruit salad
    – preparing rice paper rolls (kids LOVE doing this!)

    • Hi LoveSantaAu,

      How nice, offering to cook for you!

      I never thought about the other points you brought up and thank you for bringing it up. Food does involve math and chemistry and a whole lot of things now that I think about it, even culture.

      I love your other ideas as well, they are great! I especially like the rice paper roll idea, they are fun to work with 🙂 And take some practice as well, lots of motor skills.

      Regards,

      Lori H.

  17. I think we as a society have forgotten how important cooking skills are. I was recently chatting with a young man about 23 years old. He said he was learning how to cook, so I asked him what he had cooked recently. He said “spaghetti, but it didn’t come out too well”. I asked him what he did. He said “steamed it for a long time, but the noodles never cooked”. This guy, who was never taught how to cook pasta, had only ever seen it kept warm in buffet chaffing dishes. He assumed that was how spaghetti was cooked. I used to say “if you can boil water, then you can cook”. I don’t say that anymore, because it assumes that people know the basics of cooking, and you can’t make that assumption. I think it is extremely important that we start our kids in the kitchen as soon as possible.

    • Hi missbee23,

      Hehehe, that’s really funny! Poor guy! Shame on his family! It is so important to know the basics, we need to eat to live. Teaching your children the basics and pleasures of cooking is a wonderful way to enrich their lives.

      Regards,

      Lori H.

  18. I love this article because the best bonding time I have ever had with each of my children is preparing meals/baking with them. They absolutely love it and I love seeing the joy in their eyes when they see their creations at the end. We always have a good time doing things together and I am grateful for my little family for that!

    • Hi megankl,

      Thank you, I am happy you enjoyed the article.

      I love the vision of your family bonding in the kitchen, as I always say food is love and a way of giving and sharing love.

      Regards,

      Lori H.

  19. I kept asking my Ma to teach me how to cook when I was younger, but she did not have much patience for it. She snapped at me as I destroyed the shaping of my second crêpe ever, not the best teacher, haha.

    I did cook with kids after that, taking care to be extra patient, even as they broke eggs all over the tablecloth. (Note to self: take away the tablecloths!). I only got harsh as my student (7 years old boy) sneezed right into the pan, on the crepe we was making. I sent him away for a moment, then asked him back to explain to him why he could not just go and sneeze all over the place. He agreed. His dad gave him more crap for it than I did, really.

    But the kids are always happy to help. They feel so grown up!

    • Hi crayonelle,

      Hmmmm, maybe your Mother was letting you try things that were a little advanced for your age, hehehe. Yes, it does take patience sometimes, I can imagine, but worth it in the end.

      Hehehehe, your post is making me laugh, I can imagine trying to explain why we must not sneeze in the crêpe but even that is a good lesson in cooking and hygiene. Thanks for sharing!

      Regards,

      Lori H.

  20. It definitely helps to involve the kids in the kitchen. We need to teach our children these cooking and healthy eating skills so they can be healthy and save money when they become adults. The amount of people in their 20’s who can’t cook is crazy. Lets encourage our children to eat healthy and prepare quality meals right from home!

    • Hi Kittyworker,

      Exactly! I am shocked at how many teenagers or even older kids and young adults can’t cook anything in the kitchen. It really is a shame. Like you say, especially economically and health wise. They are also missing out on the beauty of cooking for others which is such a nice way of sharing love. The younger you can start the children the better, even if it is just to watch and take an interest (if they are too young to actually help) this way when they are old enough to help they will be excited about it.

      Regards,

      Lori H.

  21. Having children help out in the kitchen is a great way to get them to eat their food. It’s the trick my aunt uses to get her children interested in their food. They used to hate eating vegetables but after she had them prep the veggies, they loved eating them!

    • Hi Jen W,

      I never thought about that! Thanks for bringing it up. 🙂 Smart Aunt you have there.

      Regards,

      Lori H.

  22. My husband is a chef by trade so a lot of our family time is spent together in the kitchen. I have a six year old and an almost four year old and they LOVE to help in the kitchen. We have found that it makes them make better food choices as well when they get to help prepare it. I am actually looking for a kid approved Chef’s knife for them right now. 🙂

    • Ally, you may want to look at Japanese Nakiri Kitchen Knife. This have no tip and are made for chopping. The Nakiri has a double bevel similar to western style knives as opposed to the Usuba that have the more traditional single bevel.

      This one is fairly low cost and is made of stainless steel (as opposed to carbon steel) which would make it more kid proof and less likely to be damaged if left immersed in water.

    • Hi ally79,

      How nice to have a chef husband and even nicer her makes it a family event cooking together! Let us know if you try the Japanese Nakiri Kitchen Knife.

  23. As a kid, my mother always had me in the kitchen helping her with her culinary dishes. Wether she put me in charge of cleaning plated or frying rice, I always was in the kitchen no matter what. It began my initial love for cooking, and cannot wait to pass it onto my kids.

  24. Cooking with my children is something I’ve been doing since their birth. I loved making baby food with my babies. You should see the light in their eyes. It’s something that involves all the senses: I would talk to them, I would show them the foods that went into the mash, I would let them smell the foods, taste bits as we go, & touch everything. It was amazing back then. Now it’s a struggle at their age.

    • Hi JoanMcWench,

      Hmmm, maybe it’s just a stage but don’t give up! I think it’s really great you made your own baby food!

      Regards,

      Lori H.

  25. Both of my daughters love cooking, my son not so much. I often bring them along when I go grocery shopping so we can pick out our next cooking projects together. That’s why I frequent this site so much, I’m trying every recipe I can find on here.

    • Hi TommyVercetti,

      As long as your son knows the basics it’s not absolutely necessary that he loves cooking. Someday he will need to know when he is on his own but it is lovely your daughters love cooking, they must have taken after you.

      I am happy to hear you love the recipes here! Enjoy!

      Regards,

      Lori H.

  26. When my daughter turned 18 and moved out on her own she (literally) couldn’t make Mac and cheese with something going wrong. Her boyfriend cooks for her now. I’m hopeful that with your help here I can do a better job teaching my son, lol.

    • Hi kana_marie,

      I have an idea, why don’t you invite your daughter and her boyfriend over and along with your son you can all make homemade macaroni and cheese together! Homemade macaroni and cheese is so delicious and very easy to make. Much more delicious than the boxed variety. That gives me an idea, I should do a comfort food mac and cheese recipe… Hmmm… It ‘s really something everybody should learn how to make.

      Regards,

      Lori H.

  27. I am so glad that there are other people involving their children in the kitchen. My two girls have been helping me out in the kitchen since they were three years old. They love to make grilled cheeses and omelets on the griddle and are great little helpers if I need potatoes or eggs peeled.

  28. Unfortunately when I was a child I never got to spend time in the kitchen with my mom and cook with her or help out at all and it couldn’t be more true that it really does affect you as you get older and move out. I can cook but I am not great at it and at times I wish I could do more and be more creative so I definitely want to start getting my three year old more involved when I cook dinner. I haven’t had her help out much since she’s so young all she does is throw things around but she is now at an age where she understands and can tell me what she likes and does not like so its more enjoyable cooking together. Plus I feel like it will bring us closer doing this together even if its something small like baking cookies together 🙂

  29. Hi katherine,

    This sounds like a fun opportunity for you both to learn together! At 3 she can certainly hand you things and start getting inspired. Cookies would be a fun place to start (pouring in the chocolate chips, etc.) and as she grows you can get into more complicated things and continue to learn together and enjoy your Mommy Daughter time together in the kitchen for a very long, long time until perhaps you have Grandkids teach! By then you will be a super pro 😉

    Regards,

    Lori Jo

  30. My son is the pickiest eater in the entire world, I am sure of it. I have tried to get him involved in the kitchen to broaden his curiosity to food but it hasn’t seemed to work. I have him help chop ingredients for salads using a child safe knife but he will throw a temper tantrum if I try to have him eat one piece of lettuce. The funny flip side to the whole thing is the child will watch my make green smoothies filled with kale, spinach, carrots, etc and LOVES them. Does that make any sense?

    In closing I find it funny that you mention even the most finicky eaters enjoy salmon. My picky little guy LOVES salmon but won’t go anywhere near a hot dog or bratwurst…. silly stuff.

  31. Hi daniconk,

    Wow, that is different but I am sort of the same with fruit. I love raw vegetables but when it comes to fruit I much prefer them in a smoothie, plain juice or some sort of vegetable and fruit juicing concoction. You are, however, so fortunate that your son likes juicing. I will have to post some juicing recipes. Maybe if you found the right dressing he would eat the raw vegetables. Maybe try broccoli florets dipped in some sort of homemake ranch dressing.

    Wow again, he loves salmon and not hot dogs or bratsurst, very different but great! Have you tried giving him smoked salmon or gravlax for breakfast with a little lemon juice and some capers on top and very thinly sliced and peeled cucumber? Might be a good way to sneak in the raw vegetable, hehehe.

    Regards,

    Lori Jo

  32. It really is refreshing how helpful and forthcoming children are when they are given the opportunity. I am sure that those who follow this article for the first time, will be pleasantly surprised how willing kids are when they are given attention, and positive reinforcement. As parents, we just need to take a big step and trust!

  33. Great article!!!

    My daughter is currently three, and we always work together in the kitchen. Most of the time she likes to eat half of the ingredients while we eat, but it has turned into an enjoyable experience she looks forward to on a daily basis. Right now we focus mostly on homemade pizza and sandwiches. All of the more “advanced” cooking, especially if it involves cooking meat, I tend to have her watch from a distance. Now if I could just get her enthusiastic about cleaning up too…haha

    Thank you for posting this, because it makes me feel better about the experiences I share with my daughter, music included!! 🙂

    • Hi Bonbinski,

      That’s great you are cooking with your daughter and at such a young age! Hahahaha on eating the ingredients. I think we are all guilty of this. 🙂

      You are welcome and you sound like a delightful Mom!

  34. Great article! I think that children are naturally curious and will become interested in the art of cooking just by observing their parents involved into the process, but it is always important to give them some simple but satisfying tasks such as mixing the dough or cutting the cookie shapes.

  35. CrowdedHighways,

    Thank you! Yes, naturally curious and naturally hungry, hehehehehe. And true, we need to set a good example as they like to emulate what their parent or parents are doing, it’s how they learn so we must cook and set a good example first.

  36. I encourage all parents to read this article, because its crazy the amount of people who don’t know how to cook and are proud. Growing up my mother felt like everything was preparation for married life, or just being out on my own period. Plus, its a great way to connect with your family. I remember how it felt having all my siblings and I huddled around mommy baking cookies. Its memories like that that I won’t forget and I plan to make the same ones with my son when its time. Great article!

    • Hi denelizr,

      Thank you! I know, I am amazing sometimes and even worse when they are proud of it, hehehe! They have no idea what they are missing as far as pleasing themselves, pleasing loved ones or teaching their children how to take care of themselves once out on their own! I say learning at least the basics of cooking to be of utmost importance for everybody and that of course starts at home in your own kitchen with your little ones. So sweet your childhood memories are, thank you for sharing.

  37. Yes this is a good idea to start this young. My Mom didn’t really like to cook at all. Mostly convenience foods and prepackaged junk is what she would make. I wish we had eaten healthier and it would have been nice to get into it young. My Grandmother’s didn’t even do this with us. They did make things that were a lot more healthy than Mom. My sister is actually a chef and does circles around Mom now. I make everything from scratch now. This is great though because it is something to do together to make you closer. I like this idea.

    • Hi Love2eat,

      I have to be honest, my Mom was a terrible cook! That and moving to a meat eating country when I do not eat meat is what caused me to learn and appreciate cooking on my own although I would have loved it if I did not have to learn on my own or later on in life. I did enjoy making desserts and cookies with my Mom, she was good at that as well as a nice vegetable stir fry but that was about it.

      Food is so much more than just nutrition and like I have said before it is all about giving and sharing love. The kitchen is the heart of the home and spending time with loved ones in the kitchen and watching their faces as they enjoy your food really is priceless and it really does bring people and family together. Or maybe I should say the food you prepared together. I always involve my guests somehow in the preparing of the meal and it feels like a really healthy way of sharing quality time no matter what age they are. The younger the better though!

  38. My kids absolutely love to sit on the counter and “sprinkle” or season the food. They do tend to eat dishes they may not have previously now that they are involved in the cooking process. Please share more tips on how to get them more involved in the kitchen, I’d love to read what you and others do esp with young (under 3) kids.

    • Hi cbrain5,

      That is great they are eating a greater variety of food because they are helping! They want to enjoy the fruits of their labor, hehehehehehe. I would love to here more tips so everybody please join in with your tips. The tiny ones 3 and under can often stir in ingredients if you hold the bowl for them. Mmmm, makes me think of making chocolate chip cookies and stirring in the chips, yummy!

  39. My mother rarely cooked when I was growing up. Most of the time we ate Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, or microwaved chicken nuggets. Most nights were titled, “fend for yourself night”. Other than the fact that it was probably super unhealthy, it kind of worked for our family. I didn’t know any different. The moment I got married, I knew I was in trouble. I had no idea how to cook for my husband and when I tried, everything turned out horrible! When we started having kids, I had to really put forth the effort in order to ensure my family was being fed healthy and nutritious meals. I understand the importance of cooking with children now that I am a mom. I want my girls to be prepared when it is their responsibility to feed their families. Not to mention, they really have a blast when they get to help prepare meals in the kitchen!

    • Hello karleem,

      I have to admit mac n’ cheese night can be fun sometimes but there are some homemade versions that are very easy and much tastier. I am sure you struggled at first and a lot. That is why it is so important to do what you are doing, and enjoying cooking with your children! They will be forever grateful. Have fun!

  40. I like teaching my daughter how to help me in the kitchen. There are some things I have to really help her with like stirring. Otherwise she’ll get it all over the place. But for the most part, having young kids help you is fun and can still be clean. They should learn young and keep learning throughout the years so they’ll know how to cook when they get older.

  41. These are some awesome tips. I always wondered how I would teach my children to cook when the time comes. Now I have a fair idea of what to do and how to do it. I realize that it’s best to start of with things that should be done in the oven rather than the stove.

    • Hi Zhen25,

      I am so happy you are inspired and are going to follow through. Remember, you can also start with even simpler things such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches using cute cookie cutter designs to turn them into cute shapes. 😉 Have fun!

  42. I love getting the kids involved in the kitchen. I homeschool my children and I use cooking all the time in our school lessons, especially in math. We double recipes or multiply them by 1.5, we practice fractions using pizzas and for the little ones counting and sorting cereal is fun. Something as simple as reading and following the directions in a recipe can be an invaluable lesson to a child. It’s also really neat to let them season their creations. They can use their senses and create yummy flavors, and also learn balance when something doesn’t taste quite right.

  43. One of the very few things I would change about my upbringing is the food that we ate. A lot of it was just heated up in the oven rather than a homemade meal cooked from scratch. Any homemade meals we had I certainly wasn’t involved in cooking, and I have so few skills in the kitchen now. I wouldn’t have a clue how to cook any vegetables or assemble a nutritious meal. If there’s a night at home now where I have to cook for myself I usually grab the instant noodles or make scrambled eggs. In 2016 I’ll be moving out of the house and going to university, so I’m going to have to learn soon. I’m also going to have to do it on a budget, which is an extra challenge! I hope that I’ll learn by the time I’m an adult and have a family, because I’d love to follow this advice so that my children aren’t as clueless as I am!

    • Hi hanbar101,

      Hahaha, I can relate to some of that. I never liked meat (except fish) and my Mom would always make pork chops or something like that, put a loaf of bread on the table and perhaps open a can on green beans, heat and serve them. Not my idea of good food. I wish I was exposed to the kind of cooking I love at a young age but alas this was not my case.

      You can do this now! No need to wait. Cooking and following a recipe is not difficult. Just start with simple ones like a tuna melt etc. Pastas… You will be fine. Try the Argentine lentil stew recipe I published here and put the excess in the freezer in small plastic containers to re-heat.

      Good luck! You are going to do great.

  44. I did not grow up in the kitchen. Or, to be more accurate, I did not grow up PARTICIPATING in the kitchen. Other than licking the odd spoon or pilfering the cookie dough. And I am a lesser man for it. I really appreciate your comments, Lori. My wife is a huge cooker/baker/kitchen person and we really want our kids to participate, too. Not just for their long distant independent futures but for the strength of our family today. Our eldest is 2-1/2, so there’s not a whole lot that she can do, but we still try to engage her – throwing out trash, fetching ingredients, or other simple things on the side. One other thing that I do to help is being engaged myself. Even though I am not very skilled or knowledgeable or fast in the kitchen, I do what I can to help – wash dishes, chop veg. I think my example of being involved helps draw her in to participate, as well.

    • Hi labixler,

      I think it is more common for little boys not to be involved in cooking for the family than for little girls which is a shame. I think it is really cute that you are learning along with your kids. In the end you will all be much better off and again, this is good quality family time. You are being a good example for them.

  45. These pictures are just too cute. They remind me of my girls trying to “help” in the kitchen when they were little.

    I think teaching kids to cook is a big gift. I’m thankful that my parents taught me.

    Using the right tools and kitchen equipment is very important.

    My oldest is a great cook. My next oldest who lives out of state is too. She even pulls off Thanksgiving. The other never really wanted to learn, but now that she’s about to move out, she says, “Teach me!” like I can do it overnight, ha ha. She is going to live nearby, so I see some lessons in our future.

    • Hi Zyni,

      It won’t happen overnight but she can quickly learn simple dishes. It sounds as if you two are going to have a lot of fun cooking together! It will help her transition of moving out to have you over or vice versa to help her out and have your company.

  46. When I was a kid, I remember helping my mother in the kitchen and I’m glad about it. It is unfortunate that many young people don’t know how to cook or prepare a meal just because their parents never cared enough to teach them. It is actually pretty easy to include children to the event of cooking a meal or baking, so it doesn’t take that much of a hassle after all. It also changes children’s views of healthy food when you let them prepare it themselves or with you. It’s all about the love!

    • Hi heavymetalkilos,

      Yes it is all about the love! And they also need to take part in the clean up, I hate it when I see children eat and just leave the table to go watch TV leaving their plates, glasses, napkins, etc. on the table. They are perfectly capable of rinsing their dishes off and leaving them in the sink. This is a pet peeve of mine.

  47. My son is only 17 months old, so he’s not quite old enough to help yet, but every day, for every meal, he is usually at my feet in the kitchen, occupied by one plastic utensil or another, and I always explain to him what it is that I am doing. Whether it’s just cutting up some avocado, or seasoning some chicken, he’s my little audience for my one-mom cooking show. I was raised an only child of a single mother, I did have to fend for myself more often than not and my culinary skills didn’t extend much past shells and cheese by the time I was living on my own. Thanks to the world online, and resources like Pintrest, YouTube and blogs like this one, my kitchen adventures are much more exciting and fulfilling, not to mention healthier. I can’t wait to share the process with my son!

    • Hi xina458,

      Unfortunately it sounds like your Mom did not have much time to spend in the kitchen. I am happy that this Blog as well as other sources are helping you learn what your Mom did not have time to teach you.

      That is really great you are starting your little one out so early even if it is to keep you company and play with plastic utensils. The important thing is time with Mommy and soon the time will come when he can graduate to using these plastic utensils one way or another. At any rate it sounds as if you two are on the right track and having fun!

  48. I have always seen my parents, and grandparents cooking I think that it came natural to me. Also encouraging children to help in the kitchen really makes it easier for them in the future to learn to cook.

    My brother is really manly but cooks like an angel because our dad was always in the kitchen when we were growing up.

    • Hi vegan93,

      Yes cooking is for everybody! My Dad had no idea how to cook but he could make southern biscuits. His Mom must have taught him that one and only thing,hehe. I think it helps out the whole family if all can cook or at least help in the kitchen and it certainly is more fun that way. I always include guests in the cooking and they enjoy it and go home with a new knowledge of how to make something yummy.

      I feel sorry for those that did not learn to cook growing up or as young adults living on their own for the first time with no idea of what to do in the kitchen. Not only does it save then money but it is a great way to entertain friends.

  49. Hello, Lori Jo Hendrix!
    Thanks for the delightful story and photos. Is the photo of the 3 children in the kitchen (with the bowl of eggs) yours? The question behind the question is, that I run an online internet school that teaches English to children in remote locations. We also teach Syrian refugee children. One of my teachers wrote a wonderful little story about cooking together. Would you allow us to use that photo for the story? The stories are on our blog so the children have access to them. But no one is paid for the stories (text or illustrations). We are all volunteers.
    Thanks so much for considering our request!!!
    All the best to you.

  50. Thank you so much for this article! My son is 20 months old, and he gets extremely curious whenever I cook something. I always allow him to help me in whatever way he can. And he’s enjoying it so much, it makes my heart melt!:) He pours ingredients into the bowl, cleans the counters, kneads the dough (as much as he can), cuts the butter and many other small things that I find appropriate for his age. I really hope that he will continue to feel interested in the kitchen and will help me even more when he grows up.

  51. Hi zoribrida,

    You are welcome! How cute your son is! I see a chef in the making! I am sure this is developing into a lifetime habit the both of you will continue to enjoy no matter what the age.

  52. I don’t have kids yet but I have a niece and she’s often over to visit. Your post is a very interesting read and I agree with many of the points you made. Getting kids involved in the kitchen can be a great way to bond and to have a quality time together. Besides it will be very helpful for them, they will be able to make their own meals once they’ll move on their own, and hopefully this will limit the amount of unhealthy food they will eat. Sometimes my little niece shows interest and wants to help me in the kitchen and I let her. Your post has given me many interesting ideas and I’ll have some fun with my little niece very soon. And in the future, when I’ll have kids of my own, I’ll make sure to follow your great tips. Thank you!

  53. Hi Snarya,

    How cute that your niece helps you! You must be a fun aunt. You can even rent a film and have fun making snacks to eat during one of her favorites. Sounds like a fun evening.

    Keep it up!

  54. I’m such a nervous nellie when it comes to having the kids in the kitchen. I never know which tasks will be suitable for them to help with. Right now, I only have one little girl that’s the right age to start helping and creating in the kitchen, the other one is more concerned with seeing how many things she can pull off surfaces while racing around in her walking ring. My oldest already shows interest in cooking and being in the kitchen, so I think I will copy your list and try making them all, day by day, with my little girl! She will definitely love to be a helping hand with preparing the meals, and as for cleaning up, she loves cleaning up with her dad…on a Saturday morning you can find them both in front of the kitchen sink doing the dishes…this mostly turns out to be a washing of the dishes, the floors, the chairs and themselves 😉

    • Hi MelissavdW27,

      It certainly sounds as if your family has fun together!

      I am so happy you are going to try the suggestions and would love to hear back on which ones you felt worked best.

      Pulling things off surfaces… Hmmm… that sounds like my cats, they see a coin or anything and walk over and slap it off, hahahaha. Unfortunately I do not think mine will grow out of that stage, hahahaha.

      • Hahahaha! Nope, sorry…cats don’t grow out of that, they just add to their many ways of entertaining themselves…my 2 cats started lying on everything they’re not supposed to (eg. My laptop bag) right after bundu-bashing outside in the bush, bringing in these weeds called Black Jacks (Spanish Needles). Urgh, and they stick to everything! I’m forever picking them out of everything, especially blankets, and Matewis’ tail!
        I will certainly let you know which ones worked, going to start trying them on Saturdays! So excited for her to join me! It will be messy but fun!

  55. My mother only taught me how to cook pancakes and eggs. The easy stuff. I think that’s because she was always home cooking for the whole family so there wasn’t really a necessity to teach me. Now that I’ve grown up, I regret not standing next to my mother to see what she’s cooking and how she does it. I would’ve learned so much faster by doing that. When my son turns old enough, I’ll start teaching him how to use the stove and oven. But for now, just the basics – wooden spoons and big bowls to pancakes and waffles. Gotta start somewhere!

  56. Fantastic article Lori Jo Hendrix, much appreciated. And it is very much agreed that it is a very good idea for Quality Family Time, which is always valuable.

  57. I plan on teaching my children cooking at a young age, it’s a really useful skill to have growing up. When I was younger I didn’t even know how to make fries or a proper salad, I always had to rely on my mother when it came to cooking. Nice article!

  58. Hi fuzyon,

    Thanks! It is nice when the children can prepare something for themselves when Mom’s not home. Speaking of fries, fries done in the oven would be a very simple thing to prepare, especially if you leave the skin on. You can cut the potatoes yourself, depending on their age and show them how it is done and then they can put them into the baking sheet and cook them. Let us know how it goes and how old your young ones are.

  59. Well this is a must in my family, which even if it wasn’t it would probably still be a family event just given how much it is a part of our family history and culture. It is such a great opportunity to teach your children so much about everything, and it is how I learned a lot of the things that I know, and I still have great memories of being in the kitchen on those big holidays with my grandmother and mother/ From math, to science to history, to like you said, art, there are so many things to learn, and he earlier that you get the children involved the more that they take away from it, and this leads to more learning in the future….and better food/ Thanks for sharing.

  60. How ironic that the reason that I took up cooking and baking was so I could spend more time with my daughter in the kitchen and learn more recipes that we could prepare together. I noticed one day while we were making breakfast how much fun she was having helping me around the kitchen , and how we talked and laughed and connected like we had never done before, that is when I made the decision to make that a regular part of our lives.

    • Hi NormaD,

      Oh I love your post and thank you for sharing it. That is what this is all about.

      Remember those little easy bake ovens for children? This is even better, cooking in the real kitchen!

      What a great new Mommy and Daughter tradition. You sound like a fun Mommy.

  61. It’s always a great idea to teach your kids about healthy eating and cooking while they are still young. I also have very fond memories of me and my mom in the kitchen when I was very young and they are some of the best childhood memories that I have. I have a young daughter and she just loves helping me in the kitchen, although a lot of times she creates more havoc than she helps. I love that time that we spend together in the kitchen.

    • Hi MsTc,

      That is so nice your Mom gave you so many fond memories in the kitchen with her and you can carry on that tradition with your daughter.

      Absolutely the chaos is well worth the wonderful company and connection created and soon she will be more help than chaos, lol!

      Have fun!

  62. This is a really good post, I think that this type of habits is better when they are acquired on a really young age, on that way, kids are more able to be more open to do things by themselves, and that’s really helpful when it comes to independence, a characteristic that’s really important nowadays.
    Sadly, I didn’t get this when I was a little boy, sometimes my mom and I used to cook deserts buy we never really tried with regular meals, I don’t blame her, but it’s more difficult to learn how to cook now, I guess.

    • Hi anorexorcist,

      Thank you!

      It is, but not as difficult as you think. That is why we are here! 🙂 Just start on the recipes you feel would be easiest for you.

  63. This is something I’m really looking forward to. I remember my mom and my grandma teaching me how to cook and how great a time that was for me… looking back, it would have been significantly easier for them to leave me out of it and plop me in front of a TV. I’m super glad they didn’t!

    Now, I get to pass that skill on to my son. (As a guy, chicks really dig my cooking ability. It’s one of the reasons my wife married me.) Mind you, I’ll have to wait a while. He’s barely a week old!

    • Hi deanyd_17,

      I think sometimes that is part of the problem, parents figure it is easier to just get the kids out of the kitchen but they are forgetting that eventually they will be of big help and they are missing out on that bonding time that really is worth the effort as well as preventing them from going off to university to a life of instant freeze dried Chinese soups, lol.

      Oh yes, us girls love a guy who can cook!! It is a very attractive attribute! Congratulations on your new baby boy 🙂

  64. I have three toddlers, and a small kitchen so sometimes its too hectic to bring them into the kitchen. Though, on occasion, I do bring my older kids (4&5) into the kitchen to help make stuff. Our favorites to make is homemade pizza, lasagna, hot ham and cheese sandwiches, grilled cheese, cookies, cakes, etc.

  65. This was a great article! I really wish that I would have learned a little bit more about cooking and preparing food when I was a kid, or even as a teenager. I think that it is important to teach your kids how to make their own meals at a young age because one day they will be off to college and they will need to know how to prepare food then. I wasn’t taught how to cook at a young age so it was difficult to learn. This is something I plan on showing some of my friends that have kids.

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