7 Ways to Make Cooking Fun for Kids

Most kids aren’t born to be foodies. They often form preconceived notions about foods, vegetables in particular, and then they apply that logic to food that might seem similar. Even if those similarities only extend to color. When kids can learn that cooking is fun, however, their relationship to food changes. There are quite a few things that you can do to help your kids to enjoy the entire process of cooking from start to finish. Foodie Amir Landsman even went as far as to introduce his child to the 3 categories of Asian cuisine and found the results were greatly enjoyed.

Get Them Involved in the Whole Process

These days more families are getting involved in eating healthier, less processed foods. Kids who are more involved in that process are more likely to be excited about the prospect of eating those healthier foods. Start out by letting the kids help you pick recipes to try. They might just surprise you by branching out when they see a recipe that looks like it might taste good. If kids haven’t had many other choices, they don’t really know what types of food are out there. Get them involved in the shopping process, too. Kids love to learn about where foods come from and how it ends up on their plate. The entire shopping trip can be a learning experience.

Explain Everything You Can About the Recipe and the Food

Choosing recipes together as a family is a great way for kids to practice all sorts of skills. Counting, reading and measuring are all a big part of using recipes and cooking, so time in the kitchen is a great time to reinforce things they’re already learning. Tailor activities to each child’s age level, but involve everyone in the process. Explain what it means to saute onions or to dice a carrot. Some of those activities may be more hands on than others, of course. You’ll be surprised how much information the kids are soaking up while you’re simply explaining general cooking terms to them. Whenever possible, let them help by measuring, stirring or counting.

Use What They Already Know

Even really young children can understand the concepts of full, empty and partially full. Use the skills that they already have and build on those by teaching how the concept of full relates to filling a measuring cup up to an allotted amount. Use your child’s understanding of colors to talk about purple vegetables, for example. If your kids are really adventurous, they might pick an entire menu consisting of specific colors. They can also help to count out servings when it’s time to take the meal to the table. These simple activities take what the kids already know and experience and build on them even more.

Practice Motor Skills

Cooking is full of ways for children to enhance their motor skills. Sure, some flour might end up on the counter rather than in the bowl, but with practice, your children will learn to perfect those skills. Use the time spent cooking to teach them how to properly stir a batter or how to whisk eggs. While they are learning skills that they will need later on in their own kitchens, they are also practicing these gross and fine motor skills. Using cookie cutters, mashing potatoes and sorting ingredients are some more activities that help your kids to develop their motor skills. As your child’s skills with these activities grow, they’ll be more likely to want to help out in the kitchen.

Let the Creativity Flow

Cooking is part science, part art. Let your child learn early that it’s okay to experiment a little in the kitchen. Another way to let creativity reign is to give your child full control over one aspect of the dish. If you’re making lasagna, let the child put the cheese in. Or if you’re making homemade pizza, let your child apply the ingredients however they want. This is a great way to make something together but to show your child how fun cooking can be. And when the dish is finished, you can enjoy that together as well.

Practice Safety First

Kids hear a lot of rules that they are supposed to follow but they don’t always understand why they need to adhere to those guidelines. Cooking is a great way to explain some of these things. Knife safety is always important in a kitchen, for example. Cooking together allows you to explain that knives are sharp and that only adults should use them. Sanitation is another important lesson. Explaining how germs multiply and that washing our hands gets rid of those germs is a lesson that will stick with your child.

Branch Out a Little

Sometimes kids are wary to try a food that they have never seen their parents eat. If you don’t seem to like it, why would they try it? Make it a point to try a new food every so often. Find a recipe that involves spaghetti squash or turnips. Learn about the food together and see if it’s similar to something that your family already enjoys eating. Even if you end up not enjoying the food, you have learned about something new together and you’ve spent time cooking in the kitchen together. Besides, you might find a lot more foods that your family enjoys, and that is always a great thing.

Once your kids realize that cooking is fun, they will want to cook with you more often. Maybe this isn’t ideal for every single weeknight, but you can certainly set up time on the weekend to have a great time in the kitchen. The good news is that kids are far more likely to make healthy food choices when they are involved in the preparation of those foods, so you will be helping to inspire your child to make healthier choices down the road.