Kitchen kids: Ways your child can help in the kitchen

May 14, 2012 at 3:15 p.m. ET

Help foster a lifelong appreciation of food and love for cooking in your child by having them help out in the kitchen. Helping a parent in the kitchen can be a special quality and learning time for a child, plus, as a bonus, a meal gets prepared at the same time!

Mom and daughter cooking pizza

Almost any child of almost any age can help out in the kitchen. Some detailed or risky tasks are better left to an older child, but it's up to you to ascertain what your child is ready for and comfortable with. Time spent in the kitchen can be a great learning experience in addition to fun family time, so here are some kitchen tasks your younger child can do to help out with cooking and meal preparation.

Meal planning

  • Choose a family meal or new recipe to try. Let them choose any meal of the day.
  • Write up a daily or weekly grocery list.
  • Help with grocery shopping by clipping coupons and finding what's needed at the store.
  • Put away groceries.

Meal prep

  • Gather the ingredients for a recipe.
  • Wash vegetables. An older child can peel and trim them if necessary.
  • Break up broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Crack eggs. Use a small bowl so pieces of shells can be removed.
  • Open packages.
  • Peel fruits and mash bananas.
  • Measure out the ingredients. Follow a recipe so your little one learns how to measure properly.
  • Tear up lettuce and assemble salad ingredients.
  • Set the table with everything that's needed, including all serving ware and napkins.
  • Refill salt, pepper and other spice containers.
  • Mix up juice or other beverages.
  • Mix up liquids, such as salad dressing in a shaker.

Get cooking

  • Pour ingredients into bowls or other dishes.
  • Mix or whisk the ingredients of a recipe together.
  • Turn on the oven and set timers.
  • Mix hamburger meat into patties or balls. For food safety, have your child wear food-safe plastic gloves.
  • Butter and season bread slices for garlic toast.
  • Assemble sandwiches, burgers or wraps.
  • Top a pizza with pre-prepped ingredients, such as shredded cheese, sliced veggies and meats.
  • Garnish each plate. Add a sprig of parsley or a sprinkle of parmesan, for example.
  • Knead and shape dough for pizza or bread.

Cleanup time

  • Bring dirty dishes to the sink.
  • Scrape off uneaten food and waste into the garbage.
  • Wash the dishes or load the dishwasher.
  • Take out the garbage.
  • Wipe down the table.
  • Put away condiments and beverage containers.
  • Wipe down counters and cupboards.
  • Sweep the floor.

More on quality time with kids

One-on-one time: Take your child on a date
Road trip: Keep your kids entertained
10 Family fun ideas

Comments