February 24, 2023

4 Ways to Get Kids Involved in the Kitchen

Preparing food as a family has many health benefits, especially for kids. When young people get involved in meal planning and cooking, they can develop math skills, explore their senses, practice creativity, and learn about nutrition and culture. And, they’re more likely to eat!

But how does a busy family make cooking safe and fun for children? Here are four tips to try!

1. Talk About Food and Nutrition as a Family

When kids come home from school, it feels natural to ask about their day and what they learned. If your child participates in school meals, ask about what they had for breakfast and lunch. Open questions about what they like and don’t like can help young people identify foods they want to make at home. These conversations can also get the whole family talking about nutrition and the health benefits of your favorite foods.

2. Pick Kid-Friendly Cookbooks and Recipes Together

Kid-friendly recipes are everywhere! Cookbooks and online recipes are more engaging for people with varying reading levels when they have pictures or video and audio recordings. As a family, look for kid-friendly cookbooks at the library, or find a food blog or cooking video that you want to use together. It helps to read or watch a new recipe ahead of time to make sure you have all the tools and ingredients you need.

3. Find Tasks for Everyone

Cooking with young people comes with safety concerns and a range of experience. Try reading through a recipe’s instructions and have everyone pick tasks that they can do safely. For younger family members, these might include stirring, measuring ingredients, and kneading dough. For teens and adults, this might include peeling, chopping, and heating. Semi-prepared foods can also make some steps more kid-friendly. For example, instant rice can be heated in the microwave, and many canned fruits and veggies are pre-cut and ready to go.

4. Let Young People Lead 

As your family feels more confident cooking, give kids the opportunity to lead planning and preparing for some meals. Keep it as simple as they need it to be and offer support. Some ways kids can practice leadership include planning a menu, selecting a recipe, choosing an unfamiliar ingredient they want to cook with, and learning a new cooking skill to teach the family. This encourages communication skills and a growth mindset, and you’re sure to eat some delicious meals along the way!

Learn more about planning and preparing healthy, affordable meals for all ages and find kid-friendly recipes to nourish your family at HealthierGeneration.org/DelMonte

Kohleun Adamson

Manager, Culturally Responsive Communications | Alliance for a Healthier Generation