Health Resources Library

Kids in the Kitchen

Cooking is a skill that is gradually becoming a lost art in our society.

In America in 1900 only 2 percent of meals were eaten outside the home but by 2010 that number had jumped to 50 percent[1] and just last year the Commerce Department reported that sales in American restaurants totaled $52.3 billion surpassing the $49.7 billion spent at grocery stores.

The list of reasons why American’s choose not to eat at home includes; not having enough time, not wanting to clean up afterwards, inconvenience of shopping for groceries, and not knowing how to cook.

Peace of mind comes from knowing how to take care of yourself.  If you know how to cook help teach those skills to others, especially children.  Giving them understanding and experience with the proper tools will help them develop these essential life skills.

When they are ready, step back and let them do things on their own.  Don’t worry about the mess, remember you’re helping to build a love of the process and sometimes that process can get extra messy but while they are learning to cook they will also become more independent and confident, learn scientific and mathematical equations, have an outlet to express creativity, and form stronger family relationships.

Kitchen Skills by Age

The Happy Helper: 2-5 Year Olds

Begin teaching basic concepts, with a short attention span they just want to be your helper.

Washing fruits and veggies

Stirring, whisking or mixing batters

Using a Mortar and Pestle for fresh ground herbs and spices

Spreading nut butter, butter, jam, or frosting

Tearing lettuce

Mashing cooked veggies

Measuring liquid and dry ingredients

Cutting soft fruits and veggies with a child friendly knife.

Love of Learning” 6-8 Years Old

Use close constant supervision.  Learning to read cookbooks and follow directions.

Cracking, Separating and Whisking eggs

Using a vegetable peeler, can opening, garlic press and box grater

Mixing muffin and brownie batter and cookie dough

Using a paring knife

Boiling eggs and pasta

Frying eggs

Cutting with scissors to snip herbs

Doubling measurements

Real Responsibility: 9-12 year olds

Begin teaching them to read labels.  Give them more freedom to prepare things on their own.

Trimming and slicing fruit and veggies

Sautéing and roasting veggies

Putting food in the oven and removing it

Using a timer

Baking quick breads, muffins and cookies

Using small appliances: blender, food processor, waffle maker, stand mixer.

Cooking on a griddle: pancakes, grilled sandwiches, hamburgers

Using a chef knife and other larger knives

Independent Chef: 13-16 year olds

Shouldn’t need supervision.  Allow them to choose and prepare meals for the family.

Prepare a family meal plan

Able to use all kitchen appliances

Able to thoroughly clean up after themselves

Develop knife skills that include chopping, mincing and dicing.

Pan frying, broiling and grilling meats

Using a slicer or mandolin

Recognizing ingredients by texture, smell and taste

Understanding of time and temperature

Try these Kid Friendly Recipes

Banana Oaties

Apple Stackers

Fruit Dip

Gingerbread Muffins

Sweet Basil Carrots


References:[1] Hyman, Mark, MD. “How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life.” The Huffington Post. May 25, 2011. Accessed April 2016.

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