Invite your Kids into the Kitchen

Do you want your children to be adventurous eaters? Invite them into the kitchen to help you cook.

Kids who help their parents cook are more likely to try all the foods you prepare, even if they don't embrace them right away. Cooking teaches kids about nutrition and food safety — not to mention mathematics and science. And a child who becomes skilled in the kitchen is less likely to quickly grab processed foods when hungry.

Ready to have your kids begin cooking? Here are some tips for enlisting their help.

Start with Food Safety

Be sure your children know the basics, like:

  • Washing their hands with soap and running water before and after handling food.
  • Keeping work surfaces clean.
  • Keeping raw meat, poultry and fish separate from other foods.
  • Waiting until food is cooked before tasting.
  • Cooking foods to their proper temperatures.

Let them Explore with their Senses

Kneading dough. Rinsing produce. Tearing lettuce and snapping green beans. These activities will pique a child's curiosity about food with senses other than taste. If your child is hesitant to taste a food, invite them to smell it first. Taste it yourself and tell them how good it is.

Teach them How to Read (and Follow) a Recipe

Show your kids how to gather ingredients and utensils for a recipe. Tell them why it's important to measure the correct amount of each ingredient for the recipe to work.

Emphasize Safe Kitchen Skills

Teach your child how to use kitchen tools the correct way to avoid injuries. They may not be ready to use knives, even with adult supervision, until they are 10 to 12 years old. Show them how to wear oven mitts to protect themselves from burns, and explain why they should turn pan handles inward to avoid bumping into them. Be sure they know how to turn appliances on and off.

Cooking with your kids can set them on the path to a lifetime of healthy eating while making fun family memories.