Tips for Cooking with Kids

Most kids get excited about being included in the dinner-making process. Whether they help open containers or mix something in a bowl, any participation will make them feel like they are contributing. An added bonus: Children are more likely to try new dish if they had a hand in creating it.

Encourage your kids to participate in every aspect of meal preparation, from planning to cooking.

Turn Meal Prep Into a Learning Experience Get your kids started early on in the cooking process. Let them help decide what the family might eat for a particular meal. They may choose one of their favorites, or they could pick something out of a cookbook that looks good to them. Be sure to use a cookbook or recipe site with lots of pictures.

Keep their first recipes as simple as possible. Five ingredients or less is probably enough for the young ones. This simple skillet dish includes a small number of ingredients and takes less than half an hour to prepare — perfect for chefs with smaller hands and shorter attention spans.

Encourage your kids to participate in every aspect of meal preparation, from planning to cooking. Working together can also be a great learning experience. The older kids can help read the recipes and even find the ingredients in the kitchen. It can be a scavenger hunt to get everything ready. If you don't have the items needed, the kids can even help do some shopping. This can be another great learning experience. And be sure to incorporate a little math lesson into the process. Following recipes, shopping and measuring are great ways to practice fractions.

Cooking Tips: Safety First When getting started, teach kids the importance of washing their hands before and during food preparation. It may seem like common sense to us, but they won't learn unless they are taught.

Also, be sure small kids can see what's going on. Bring in a sturdy stool or chair for them to stand on — the extra height will help them reach everything easier, helping to prevent spills and accidents. Depending on their age, they should be able to help measure or mix items together. They can even sprinkle on seasoning with a little help.

Remember to keep dangerous items, like knives, out of kids' reach. Also, place their stool or chair far enough away from the stove and other hot surfaces, so they won't be able to reach out and burn themselves. If you want to be extra cautious, or are cooking with young kids, you can start with wraps or sandwiches that don't require heat.

By teaching your kids to cook while they are still young, it will not be such a chore to pass off some of the cooking responsibilities to them as they get older. Kids that grow up in the kitchen are more likely to want to explore new things on their own and help out when needed.

Cooking with kids also allows you to teach them the importance of nutrition and show them which foods are smarter choices. This does not mean that you shouldn't make some fun desserts with your kids — just teach them that these should be eaten in moderation only after the other food groups are covered.

By helping out in the kitchen, your kids are learning valuable skills that will stay with them their entire life. It can also be a fun family activity to do together. So grab the kids and get cooking!