Children working in the kitchen can be messy, dangerous and burdensome. But if you view it as an opportunity to teach, you can make it an enjoyable event. Consider teaching these basic cooking skills children need to learn to your little ones.
Basic Cooking Skills Children Need to Learn
This list is by no means all-inclusive. It is merely a list of cooking skills for children to start learning. These skills will stay with them forever and you won’t have to worry about them only knowing how to use the toaster and microwave.
Start with these three steps for getting kids helping in the kitchen.
For more tips on getting kids involved in the kitchen, grab my free cheat sheet!
1. How to Prepare Fresh Produce
I was encouraged by my friend’s kitchen story the other day. Even though she grew up eating healthy at home, she grew up in a very busy family so her mom did most of the food prep.
When she got married, she realized she didn’t have the basic knowledge for cutting up and preparing fresh vegetables. My friend sought out a teacher in her family and now she knows how to confidently handle fresh veggies!
Teaching your children this basic cooking skill of preparing fresh produce will enable and encourage them to eat healthier.
Teach them how to peel carrots. How to cut up a head of cauliflower. How to seed a pepper. And how to pit a peach. Just think how easy summer will be once they learn how to cut up their own watermelon!
2. How to Chop, Slice & Dice
Did you know a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife?
A dull knife requires more down pressure to cut the produce and greatly raises the risk of the knife slipping off sideways and cutting the user.
A sharp knife (when used with proper knife skills) will easily cut into the produce without much down pressure and the child’s fingers will stay safe.
You will decide if your children are ready to be handling knives. For knife handling skills and other basic cooking skills children need to know, check out the Kid’s Cook Real Food course only available a few times a year!
Let your children learn chopping, dicing or slicing on one food item at a time. For a quick win, let them practice slicing butter!
For less pressure at meal time, let your kids practice these skills at snack time. Many fruits, veggies and cheeses require some knife work to prep. Then they get to enjoy their hard work!
3. How to Crack an Egg (and fish out the shells!)
Cracking an egg really is a skill that requires practice!
Let your children crack their eggs for scrambled eggs or a fried egg sandwich. Everything a child does to prepare their own meal or snack will help get them excited to eat it.
As for fishing out the shells, just take the shell and use it to fish out the piece. Or wet a spoon with water and fish it out.
Check out these back to school real food snacks that your kids can help make, too. Peeling hard boiled eggs takes great skill…sometimes!
4. How to Measure
This doubles as math homework!
Teach your children the basic measuring increments of the cup, tablespoon and teaspoon.
Let them fill a quarter cup with water four times to see that it fills up the one cup measure. Give them water and all your measuring cups and spoons to get a visual learning experience on what the measurements mean.
Let them measure out a recipe with your guidance.
As they get older and more confident with measurements, have them double or halve a recipe!
You can also have them memorize how many cups in a gallon, how many quarts in a gallon, how many pints in a gallon and work your way down to how many teaspoons in a tablespoon.
5. How to Follow a Recipe
The bulk part of following a recipe will be taught with the measuring skill.
But children also need to know how to follow the instructions of a recipe.
Teach them how to preheat the oven and plan ahead. Have them gather all the ingredients needed for the recipe before they start.
Children will have fun greasing the pan and licking the bowl!
For children too young to read yet, check out Katie’s 10 Snacks that Kids Can Make freebie!
6. How to Sautee
One simple cooking skill your children can take over is sautéing. Get them set up with the pan. Let them drop the butter or oil in and the veggies.
Sautéing uses almost all senses! Children can hear the sizzle and adjust the heat accordingly. They have to watch until the veggies are translucent. They have to feel them soften. Once the veggies are sautéing nicely, they will smell that the veggies are done.
This is a great opportunity to teach them the dangers of splattering grease and how to control the heat on your stovetop.
7. How to Boil
Although this skill isn’t quite as fun as sautéing, it is still beneficial to know.
As a child, I hated being in charge of whatever had to boil. It always seemed to take forever! The constant stirring was the worst, though.
When us kids wanted pudding for dessert, we had to make it. That means we wanted it bad enough to stand next to the stove stirring constantly until it boiled and thickened.
A great teacher in patience!
Grab my freebie for more ideas on getting children helping in the kitchen!
8. How to Clean Up
Part of working in the kitchen is cleaning up after themselves. Children need to be involved in the clean-up so they don’t think Mommy will always clean up for them after the fun is done.
Make clean-up fun. Sing songs, play mind teaser games.
Don’t forget to teach them how to wash dishes by hand.
One thing to watch for is not getting stuck in a rut. Don’t let each child only do the drying or only sweep the floor. Rotate chore responsibility so that each child learns and does a different part of clean-up.
This also lets you do a different part of clean-up, too, so you can spot a poor job being done and re-train in the problem area.
Bonus Basic Cooking Skill for Children: How to Grocery Shop
I know this isn’t a basic cooking skill, but it is a direct lead-in to children taking pride and ownership of their food choices.
Getting children involved in grocery shopping by letting them pick out a special cut of meat or piece of produce will encourage them to help prepare and then eat it.
Letting them help in the grocery store and getting them involved in this first cooking step will get them excited to try new foods and learn how to prepare them.
Grab your free Healthy Convenience Foods Shopping List here!
Now that you have a few ways to get your kids involved with their food and preparing it, gather your supplies and tools and get cooking!
These basic cooking skills that children should know will be one of the most valuable things you can share with your children.