Edit ModuleShow Tags

Little Kitchen Helpers: 5 Tips for Cooking with Kids

Little Kitchen Helpers: 5 Tips for Cooking with Kids

Photo: Thinkstock.com/monkeybusinessimages

The National Nutrition Month theme, “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” reminds us that each bite counts and invites us to cook more at home. Considering that home-cooked meals are usually healthier, teaching kids how to cook becomes an important life skill we can help develop. 

The benefits of involving kids in the kitchen are short- and long-term: It helps broaden their palate, cultivates an appreciation for real ingredients, builds math skills and develops confidence. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! I have great memories of my mom and I cooking together, and I’m now passing down the tradition to my 4-year-old daughter. Parents may be afraid that cooking with kids will mean more mess and more time, but with a few guidelines, that doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some tips to help parents get started:

Plan Ahead and Start Small

You may need more time when cooking with kids, especially at the beginning and with younger kids. Choose one meal per week that a child can help with. Invite kids to be part of the recipe and ingredient selection. You may want to start with an easy dessert or side dish, like the recipe at the end of this post.

Find Doable, Age-Appropriate Tasks

It varies from child to child, but the following are some tasks they might be able to do at different stages:

2- to 3-years old: mixing and pouring ingredients, stirring and mashing, washing and drying produce, picking fresh herb leaves off stems and ripping them into small pieces, tearing up lettuce, peeling fruit with hands (tangerines, bananas), kneading dough, brushing oil with a pastry brush.

4- to 5-years old: cracking eggs, using a pepper grinder, measuring dry and wet ingredients, decorating cookies.

6- to 7-years old: whisking, grating, peeling, dicing and mincing fruits and vegetables (with supervision), greasing pans, shaping patties and meatballs, plating.

8- to 9-years old: Continue with the above tasks or decide if they are ready to take on more sophisticated responsibilities to follow an entire recipe and cook on a stove with supervision.

10- to 12-years old and up: After assessing how careful they are with heat, sharp tools and food safety, they might be able to work independently in the kitchen with an adult in the house.

Accept That Not All Children Like to Cook

In this case, they can help with grabbing ingredients, washing produce, setting and clearing the table and tasting dishes for seasoning. Their curiosity and interest in the kitchen may change over time.

Safety is a Priority

An adult should always supervise cooking until certain that his or her child is old enough to handle the responsibility. Part of cooking with kids is teaching them kitchen and food safety.

Consider This Experience an Investment!

These mini chefs are more likely to eat what they make and become more audacious in trying new foods. Plus, by age 12, they may be able to help prepare dinner before you get home. And by the time they leave home, you’ll feel good knowing they don’t need to rely on delivered or frozen dinners. Ready to get started? The recipe below is simple and easy to make with kids, and these mini quiches are a perfect way to include more veggies in family meals, even breakfast. Personalize this recipe by adding favorite herbs!

 Crustless Mini Pumpkin Quiche

Makes 12 mini quiches, or 6 servings


  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray two 6-cup muffin pans with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin puree, sour cream, eggs, 2 tablespoons cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  3. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin pans, filling each compartment to just below the rim. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  4. Bake in the oven until firm, about 15 minutes. Serve warm. 

Romina Barritta de Defranchi, DTR​Romina Barritta de Defranchi, DTR, is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and licenciada en nutrición. She specializes in international dietetics and is country representative for Argentina in the American Overseas Dietetics Association (AODA). She runs GlobalDietitians.com, a networking site for food and nutrition professionals from around the world. Follow her on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.

Edit Module

More Stone Soup

Halloween Black Radish Cucumber Salad

Halloween Black Radish Cucumber Salad

This cucumber and black radish salad is paired with a sweetened vinaigrette and warm cumin in a thinly sliced side dish.
Baked Apples Stuffed with Oatmeal

Baked Apples Stuffed with Oatmeal

They're high in fiber, naturally sweetened, easy to prep and only bake for 30 minutes!
Smoked Paprika Sweet Potato Chili

Smoked Paprika Sweet Potato Chili

What's a gal to do when she realizes hot sauces tend to be sodium-laden bombs? Look to spices! I love smoked paprika, a key ingredient in my Smoked Paprika Sweet Potato Chili.
Control vs. Craving Foods: What's the Difference?

Control vs. Craving Foods: What's the Difference?

These foods are very different for each individual and they go hand-in-hand with a person feeling hungry— not having hunger.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Advertise with Food & Nutrition
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Stone Soup

Guest bloggers from around the world share with Food & Nutrition Magazine.

About This Blog

Stone Soup is a guest blog written by members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Content — including information, recipes and views expressed — is that of the authors and does not reflect the positions or policies of Food & Nutrition Magazine or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Bloggers are required to pledge they will not write for Stone Soup on topics, companies or trade organization they currently represent or have represented at any time.

Learn about our guest blogs!

Comments Policy

Food & Nutrition Magazine provides this forum to exchange ideas, opinions and contributions within a positive community. Diverse viewpoints and constructive, respectful dialogue are welcome. Rudeness, misinformation, self-promotion and abuse are not. We reserve the right, without warning or notification, to remove comments and block users we determine violate this policy or our Terms & Conditions. You must include your name or be logged into a personal account on Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or Google+ to comment.


Edit Module

Get Stone Soup in Your RSS

Use your RSS reader's instructions to add Stone Soup to your list:

Atom Feed Subscribe to the Stone Soup Feed »

Get Our Blogs in Your Email

Stone Soup
Student Scoop