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Teach kids to cook (using a video game!)

Betsy Bailey is the co-founder and executive editor of SheKnows, Pregnancy & Baby, GeoParent and, among others. She has also served as the editor-in-chief of four national print magazines. She lives with her husband and their...

Cooking with kids

Teach a kid to cook, and you'll have to do much less of it. But when time is short, sometimes it's all you can do just to get a fast dinner on the table. Here's a fun way to teach your kids to cook: Let this video game do most of the work.

Cooking with kids

What we loved

The game's recipes we've made so far have been delicious. The detailed preparation instructions and cooking tutorials allow my children to proceed with lots of autonomy and minimal adult intervention.

The team-approach option is very cool. At the outset, you enter the names and ages of your "players" and any knife or stove restrictions. When you start a recipe, you select the cooking participants, and the game assigns alternating tasks for each of them, as appropriate.

The audio track loops verbal instructions while you are in the midst of your preparations. Okay, the looping was a little annoying for me, the adult who was mainly just supervising -- but the kids appreciated it. Sometimes, they had messy hands and needed to hear the next step again, so the track was a very useful coaching mechanism for them. Yessir, I'll get over my annoyance if it means I can delegate food prep!

You can flag different family members' interest in the recipes as you browse them, which is useful information for meal planning.

What we thought could be better

Recipe formatting: As an experienced family cook, I would like the option to see the whole recipe conventionally formatted. Before I start cooking, I always scan my recipe and map out my plan. This is especially important when juggling multiple dishes (as you usually are when preparing a meal).

This game, however, offers no such option -- at least not one readily apparent to me. You can preview the whole recipe by clicking tediously through all of the screens (and we recommend that you do this!), but obviously, this is inefficient. Plus, as someone learns the recipe, she might want to reference it quickly without wading through the detailed instructions.

Meal planning options: The game generates recommendations for holidays and special occasions, but not for plain, old calendar days. Some sort of everyday meal planning inspiration tool would help because, after all, sometimes the worst part about making dinner is figuring out what to make for dinner.

Next: What we made and how we liked it

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