Bringing Kids into the Kitchen

Do you ever dream of coming home to someone making you dinner? And that someone being your child? No matter what age your children are start planning for this to happen one day. Coming home to this is priceless!

March is Nutrition Month and here at Diaries of a Dietitian we’re focusing on the potential of food to bring people together. Food is nourishment, of course, but it’s also so much more. Food unites us all. 

Our next idea - bringing kids into the kitchen. Help your kids discover food by bringing them into the kitchen and involving them in cooking or baking. 

In my opinion you need patience, patience and even more patience when your kids are in the kitchen. For one they are slow...slower than slow, it takes a lot more time and they make a mess!  

So keep these things in mind and plan a time when your kids can help in the kitchen. Take a look at your week and select a day or time of day when you will not be in a rush. 

Teach your children age appropriate kitchen skills and than put them to work. Everyone, including kids, learns better when they can practice.  Stay with younger kids and help them for older kids keep an eye on them and if they seem to be struggling ask if you can help.

And remember to teach your kids about safety - kitchens are filled with sharp and hot things. 

Children 2-5 years old can:
  • help stir
  • help measure ingredients
  • put cut vegetables into a bowl
  • use cookie cutters 
Children 6-8 years old can:
  • use a can opener, juicer or garlic press
  • grate cheese
  • peel fruits and vegetables
  • mash potatoes or other cooked vegetables
Children 9-12 years old can:
  • trim and slice vegetables
  • dice onions and other vegetables
  • put foods in the oven and remove them
  • make from scratch things like muffins, pancakes or waffles
  • make rice, pasta or eggs
  • make a grilled cheese or fry ground meat
  • use appliances like a food processor, blender, and mixer
 Children 13-16 years old can:
  • use all kitchen appliances, including cleaning them
  • continue to develop safe knife skills to slice, chop, dice and mince
  • roast vegetables
  • roast, bake, or pan fry chicken and other meats
  • learn how to use and clean a barbecue 
By 16 years old a good goal is for children to know how to cook six different healthy meals. Check out Six By Sixteen for more information. 
And of course the best part of helping in the kitchen is the taste testing!

Enjoy some time cooking or baking with your children this weekend! Share with us what you made.

Shannon RD
Registered Dietitian