Cooking with Kids

Children love to help in the kitchen and it’s a great way to learn about healthy eating.  Here are some tips to help make it a success.

  1. Make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment before you start.
  2. Always wash your hands before and after handling food.
  3. Keep your mouth away from food during preparation.
  4. Use a separate cutting board for raw meat. 
  5. Use caution when handling knives.
  6. Wear closed toe shoes.
  7. Walk in the kitchen and avoid fooling around.
  8. Be careful around hot appliances.
  9. Tie long hair back.
  10. Clean up and put everything away when you are finished.


  • When working with young children, have them assist by gathering cooking ingredients, passing materials, and watching the preparation.
  • Engage young children by telling them what you are doing, asking them to identify food, and asking for their ideas for the next step.
  • Make a poster with the rules on it and read rules with children before cooking.
  • Ask the children to demonstrate kitchen safety.
  • Have small groups of two or three children helping at a time.

Two and three year olds are learning to use the large muscles in their arms and can help with these activities:

  • Wiping table tops
  • Moving pre-measured ingredients from one place to another
  • Playing with utensils such as mixing spoons, spatulas and other soft items
  • Rinsing and tearing lettuce and salad greens
  • Scrubbing and dipping vegetables and fruits
  • Mixing ingredients (use an extra large bowl to contain mess)
  • Kneading dough and simple shaping
  • Putting trash in the garbage can

Four and five year olds are learning to control smaller muscles in their fingers.  Offer experiences such as:

  • Setting the table
  • Mashing soft fruits (bananas) and cooked vegetables with a fork
  • Forming rounds shapes with hands
  • Measuring ingredients
  • Peeling loose-skinned oranges and hard-cooked eggs
  • Beating eggs with a whisk