Tips to Make Cooking with Your Kids Fun, Safe, and Meaningful

Cooking with your kids is an enjoyable and fun bonding activity that is deliciously rewarding. When your kids participate in the process of cooking healthy and delicious food, they not only learn the valuable life lesson of cooking, but they also understand and appreciate what they eat.

Here are some tips for cooking with your kids in the kitchen. From ensuring health and safety in the kitchen to practicing cleanliness, these tips will help your kids feel more comfortable and confident when cooking.

1. Feed Your Kids the Best Produce

Tips to Make Cooking with Your Kids Fun, Safe, and Meaningful

Buying the best, ripe, and in-season, local produce you can find will teach your kids the essence of eating seasonally and locally. Eat strawberries in summer, apples in fall, and citrus in winter.

Read food labels and ask the grocery store clerks to make sure you’re buying vegetables and fruits in season farmed close to your home as possible. When your kids learn to love local produce, they help the economy and the environment, as well.

2. Rinse and Repeat

Allowing your kids to see a dirty piece of fresh produce teaches them about where food comes from and how they are grown. Show them a bunch of carrots pulled straight from the ground and use the opportunity to tell them about the farmers who grew them and the people who picked them.

And then tell them how the sun, the rain, and the earth all work together to produce that carrot. You can also take them to a farmer’s market and introduce them to the person at the stand. There’s a big chance that that person is the farmer or knows the farmer, and he or she can tell your kids about the harvest.

When you’re home, have your kids rinse the dirt off and care for the produce you bought from the market. Ask your kids to dry them and to add them to the dish you’re preparing. Doing all this will invest your kids in the whole process.

3. Let Your Kids Chop

You can let your kids who are three years old and up to cut, too, just make sure you give them a safe knife like a disposable plastic knife or a butter or dinner knife that doesn’t have a sharp serrated edge. These kid-friendly knives can let your kids cut herbs, peeled fruit, and soft vegetables like zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

2. Rinse and Repeat

Mix It Up

Baking is one of the first ways of introducing a kid to the kitchen. A simple, good stirring can rouse your kid’s interest in other healthier foods. You can teach them how to toss a salad or toss a whole wheat pasta in homemade pesto. You can also teach them how to blend sauce or salsa as long as you supervise the machinery.

5. Roll the Pin

Give your kids a rolling pin of any size for rolling out cookies and pie crust, and even pasta and dumpling wrappers. Not only is the process gratifying, but it’s also kinesthetic. Stuff the pasta or dumplings with spinach or kale-rich fillings together.

6. Practice Honesty

Be honest with your kids about animals, so they can make their own choices about what they’re comfortable eating. Tell them that beef is from cow and pork is from a pig. Teach them the difference between happily raised animals and those raised in factory farms, and support their food choices. Listen to their concerns and take them to heart. You might even rethink your food choices through your child’s perspective.

7. Allow for messes

Consider the kitchen as your playground and expect the flour to be spilled and your clothes to get dirty, and the fun will surely follow. Welcome the culinary chaos while ensuring safety.

8. Scale Up

Let your kids lend a hand whenever they want to or if it is safe for them.

9. Ensure Your Kids’ Safety

Ensure Your Kids' Safety

For all the chaos, there still needs order. So make sure to observe these safety rules for cooking with kids:

  • Always supervise your kids in the kitchen, whether you are cooking with a toddler, child, or teen.
  • Apart from it being the symbolic beginning and end to the cooking of a meal, teach your kids that washing hands is a big part of ensuring food safety.
  • Turn pot handles away from the edge of the stove to avoid its contents, especially hot stuff, from spilling.
  • Cook the boiling liquids on the back burners, away from the curious hands of your little ones.
  • Keep your knife block out of your kids’ reach, like at the back of the counter. When using a knife, be mindful of putting it behind the cutting board, so if a kid pulls a board off the counter, the knife won’t fall with it.
  • Give your kids a step stool for a good view of what’s happening on the kitchen counter and give them their own dedicated space so they’ll feel more in control and involved. Make sure their area is free of glassware, raw eggs, meat, and fish, and other sharp tools. Keep them occupied with the safe stuff to prevent them from grabbing your chef’s knife or the raw chicken.

10. Don’t Force It

Involve the kids only as much as they want to be. Sometimes, the fun can only last for a few minutes for your kids. And don’t expect culinary perfection. Your goal in engaging them is for them to feel joy toward cooking and for them to see that the kitchen can be a happy place for play and pleasure.

If you want your kids to learn self-sufficiency and a healthy lifestyle along with other kids their age group, enroll them at a Junior Chef San Diego’s cooking summer camp!

Give us a call today at (858) 888-5071 or send us an email at to learn more about our cooking summer camp and other cooking activities we offer.

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