Cooking with Kids: A Recipe for Success

If bringing children into the kitchen to cook with you is new or something that you don’t do very often, I would highly recommend trying it! The joy, laughs, life lessons, and memories made while cooking with your kids far outweigh the mess. And it’s a great way to expose them to a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods like dairy. Start by establishing a few ground rules, managing your expectations, and following age-appropriate skill suggestions.

What Every Adult Needs to Know Before Stepping into the Kitchen with Kids

There are some things that even the most experienced adults need to remember before bringing a child into the kitchen. These tips are a recipe for success:

Have Fun!

Go into the experience with the attitude that you are going to have fun together. If you’ve had a busy day or if you’re in a rush to get dinner on the table, it is probably best to find another time when you can be more relaxed for your tiny sous chef to be involved.

Have Zero Expectation

This topic could also be titled “Keep an Open Mind” or “Brace for the Mess” because the inevitable is sure to happen — eggs will break, milk will spill, and flour will coat cabinets and faces. There are certainly lots of opportunities to make a mighty mess! Therefore, start with the expectation that this is a fun “together” activity to learn and experiment with new foods.

Designate a Time to Cook Together

Whether one-on-one or with a group of children, time spent together in the kitchen shouldn’t feel rushed or stressful. Let this time be carefree and enjoyable versus making it feel like a chore or something that is stress-inducing.

Over the years, I have found that the kitchen is our family’s safe place. When we are in there together, we talk about our days, experiment without being afraid to fail, and make hilarious (and often messy) memories.

The more children are involved with food prep and meal planning, the more excited they become about eating and cultivating a healthy relationship with food. Now more than ever I have come to realize just how much I cherish the time I spend with my girls in the kitchen. Cooking for and with them brings joy, love, and peace to my heart and to our table and I hope it does the same for you.

Holley Grainger MS, RD is a nationally recognized nutrition and lifestyle expert who brings healthy fun flavored with creativity, ease, and a sheer enjoyment of all things food, family, and beyond through her blog, Cleverful Living. Holley is a registered dietitian residing in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Brent, and their daughters, Ellie and Frances.

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