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Kid-friendly kitchen tasks

By Elizabeth Hall, MS, RDN, LDN • Aug 14, 2019 at 12:00 AM

August is Kids Eat Right Month! Most of the time if kids are involved in the preparation of the food, they will be more likely to eat it. It is important to get your kids in the kitchen at a young age and help them master simple cooking skills before they get older and practice more complex ones. The following ideas are age-appropriate tasks to get your kids excited about cooking and eating healthfully.

Between the ages of 3 to 5, children typically love to help in the kitchen, but they need close supervision. Pick out a fun apron for your child to wear and allow them to help you clear tabletops or mix simple ingredients. They could wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water or the sink, use a pastry brush to brush bread with olive oil, or cut shapes out of cheese with cookie cutters.

At ages 6 to 7, fine motor skills are further developed, so kids can handle slightly more complex kitchen tasks. They could crack eggs into a bowl, use a veggie peeler, or use blunt scissors to cut green onions or other herbs. You could teach your child how to de-seed a tomato and shuck corn or mix ingredients to prepare a colorful salad.

In the 8- to 9-year-old age group, abilities may vary, so the tasks you give your child should be tailored to their stage of development. Ideas include opening canned produce or beans with a can opener, beating eggs, measuring ingredients for baking, reading a food thermometer, or even pounding meat such as chicken or steak to tenderize them.

Lastly, 10- to 12-year-olds are entering the “pre-teen” years and can be given more independence in the kitchen. This would be a good time to incorporate meal planning, making a list, and grocery shopping with your child so they feel a greater responsibility in the meal preparation process. Kids in this age group could boil water for pasta, simmer ingredients on the stove, follow simple recipes, slice and chop veggies, or bake their own creations in the oven.

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