The Importance of Teaching Kids to Cook


Yes, kids can learn to cook!  I’ve had my son in the kitchen “helping” since he was about 3 years old.  Even if all he was doing was helping to measure & stir, he was still learning some valuable cooking lessons.  He also learned a little math & science!  I’m no child raising expert (whatever that is), but I did raise one pretty amazing kid!  {Ok, maybe I’m a little biased, but I’m the mom so I’m allowed.}  : )  I thought I’d share his latest supper making experience with y’all and some tips about teaching kids to cook.  Just remember the part about me not being an expert!

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Healthy Food & Picky Kids

This past Thursday night we had supper at my parents house.  It’s dart night for my husband, which is why he wasn’t lucky enough to wind up in the pictures!  : )  My son wanted to make homemade pizza and who was I to argue with that.  Mind you, he’s 17, soon to be 18.  He’ll be headed to college in the fall & I’m so glad I taught him some basic cooking skills, so he doesn’t have to eat ramen noodles all the time.  That’s my number 1 reason for teaching your kids to cook – healthier eating.

Don’t get me wrong, my son is a very picky eater!  It’s still better for him to make his own pizza versus buying a frozen one or ordering take out.  If you have a picky eater, that’s another good reason to get them involved in the kitchen.  Letting them help decide what goes into the meal is a great way (in my experience) to get them to try new things.

Food has different textures & smells throughout the cooking process.  Letting your child handle it from start to finish may change the way they feel about it.  Just be prepared for some not so great responses too!  My son didn’t like to mix things by hand when he was younger because he didn’t like his hands to be dirty.  As you can see, he’s over that!

Having Fun & Making Messes

Let’s face it, some people see cooking as a chore.  Bringing your child in the kitchen may make it seem like even more of a chore!  You have to remember to make it fun and forget about perfection.  Maybe try it on your day off instead of a weeknight supper – at least until the kids are older.

My son tossing pizza dough!

I worked full time when my son was older, so I know it’s tough!  Cooking together lets you spend more time with your child/children.  And yes, there will be messes!

Of course my son says this was my fault for getting in his way.  ; p  Normally I would have changed into “home” clothes, but we went straight to my parents after school.

Don’t let messes deter you from having the kids in the kitchen!  They can help clean up too!  One day they will have to clean their own messes & possibly others messes.  In my house, if you made the mess, you clean it!


Kitchen Tasks for Small Kids

As I said in the beginning, my son has been helping in the kitchen since he was 3 years old.  I can’t say what the best age is to start – remember – I’m not an expert!  With my son, I based it on what he could do already and anything he showed interest in.  At that age it was mostly measuring, pouring, & stirring.  My dad says he was cooking pancakes at the stove when he was 5!  I never let my son cook on the stove until he was tall enough to reach it without standing on a chair.

If you have kids of varying ages, let them each have an assignment for the meal.  That way you everyone gets to participate.  Homemade pizza is a great way to get the whole family involved.  Rolling out dough is fun for most kids.  It’s like playing with playdough!

You could even make individual pizzas so everyone can decide what they want for toppings.  Any chopping should be left for older kids.  My son learned to use a knife at about 7 years old.

Quick tip for righties teaching lefties :  Let them face you when learning things involving your hands.  This puts your right hand directly across from their left.  It’s easier for them to “mirror” what you’re doing.

Developing Skills & Cooking for Others

As my son has gotten older,  he’s slowly added to his kitchen skills.  He has even started trying new recipes he finds.  Thursday night is his night to cook and he gets to decide what he’s making.

When I first started having him cook once a week, he looked at it as more of a chore.  Now, he usually has a new recipe he wants to try & he likes to try new things more often.  He even made this sauce from scratch (with a little assistance).  

There are some weeks that he doesn’t cook for one reason or another.  And he still has a “teenager” appetite that usually means hamburgers, pizza, or chicken are part of the meal.  However, he looks for new ways to make it each time and that means he is enjoying it, to a certain extent!

My son also feels a sense of accomplishment when he serves a meal he planned & cooked and everyone enjoys it!  He still doesn’t enjoy me taking his picture, but that’s just too bad!  ; p

Doesn’t this look delicious?

Anyway, this is why I think it’s important to teach your kids to cook!  Do ya’ll let your kids help in the kitchen?  I’d love to know in the comments below!

Have a great weekend!


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