Easy Cooking for Kids

Why should we focus on easy cooking for kids? Getting kids cooking not only helps build cooking skills, but also healthy eating habits.
I grew up in the kitchen and quickly fell in love with the process of creating and trying new things. My mom is a chef and taught me the ins and outs of cooking and baking, which is something that I will always be grateful for. With a little extra planning and by choosing easy cooking tasks, you can get the kids involved in different aspects of meal preparation. Having your kids help may mean taking a little extra time to prepare the meal, but it doesn’t have to be an every day thing. Choose a slower day, or a weekend, to allow for plenty of time to instruct and watch the kids as they help.
Get your kids interested in the cooking process and let them help! Even kids as young as 2 can help out in the kitchen.

Easy Cooking for Toddlers

  • 2 year olds:
    • Wash fruits and vegetables
    • Tear lettuce or cauliflower into bite-sized pieces
    • Carry ingredientslettuce romaine
  • 3 year olds:
    • Knead dough
    • Mix ingredients
    • Apply spreads
    • Pick herbs off stems

spreading easy cooking for kids

Easy Cooking for Preschoolers

  • 4 year olds:
    • Peel oranges or hardboiled eggs
    • Mash bananas with fork
    • Cut herbs with children’s scissors

easy cooking for kids

  • 5-6 year olds:
    • Measure ingredients

easy cooking for kids

 Let the kids be creative and make their own culinary masterpieces! Set up a bar with all the “fixins” and let them get to work!
  • Pizza bar
  • Taco bar
  • Chicken tenders with a variety of dipping sauces
  • Rice bowls (Mexican or Asian inspired)
  • Loaded baked potatoes
  • Pasta bar
  • Oatmeal
  • Soup or Chili
  • Egg muffins or omelets
  • Charcuterie and cheese boards
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • Smoothies
  • Wraps
 easy cooking for kids pizza bar
The benefits of the kids helping out in the kitchen outweigh the extra time that it may take. Easy cooking with kids not only builds motor skills, but also encourages them to be more adventurous with trying new foods. Being in the kitchen exposes them to new sights, smells, tastes, and sounds. Finally, helping out in the kitchen gives them a sense of ownership and pride in creating a meal!
Feeding a child can be a challenge, even with the best intentions. We love to recommend Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility when it comes to setting up eating expectations.
Do you have any tips for easy cooking with kids? How do you let your kids help out in the kitchen?  Whether you have kids or not, how can you get back into the kitchen and try something new? If you need help getting back into the kitchen in a healthful way, make an appointment with one of our nutrition professionals by clicking here or calling 301-474-2499. 
Blog updated January 2020
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An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.