By Jen Ong Tone, MHSc, RD, #HalfYourPlate Registered DietitianCute african girl learning how to cook healthy meal

No matter what their age is, kids can be involved in the kitchen. Being involved in mealtime provides kids with vital food skills that will last a lifetime. Studies show that kids who are involved in cooking, may be more confident in the kitchen, open to trying new foods, and more likely to eat fruits and veggies. Keep it both fun and safe in the kitchen and try these simple tips that the whole family will enjoy!

Meal Planning

  • Get your family involved in planning meals and snacks.
  • Write down meal suggestions and post it on the fridge.
  • Try different dinner-themes: Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Pizza Thursdays, Stir Fry Saturdays
  • Have your kids pick one new fruit or veggie to try this week.
  • Create a binder of family favourite recipes or collect online recipes on Pinterest. Follow us on Pinterest to get started!

Meal Preparation: Age-Appropriate Tasks

Kids as young as two years old can be involved in the kitchen, with adult supervision. Here are some fun age age-appropriate tasks for how your little chefs can help in the kitchen. Don’t forget to review kitchen and food safety rules, like how to use a peeler, grater, and washing your hands properly!

Age Kitchen Tasks
2-3 years old ·         Smell fresh herbs and spices
·         Wash fruits and veggies
·         Add ingredients to a dish (like veggies to a pizza)
·         Count ingredients (like number of blueberries)
·         Put muffin cups in muffin tins
3-4 years old ·         Mash potatoes, carrots, or bananas
·         Pour from a small cup (like a smoothie into an ice cube tray for homemade popsicles)
·         Stuff peppers
·         Assemble simple ingredients (like ants on a log, made with celery, nut butter, and raisins)
·         Chat about the food: How does it look? Taste? Feel?
4-6 years old ·         Assemble simple ingredients: Adding taco/pizza toppings or fruit toppings to cereal/yogurt
·         Stir ingredients together (like a banana muffin batter)
·         Cut cooked veggies (carrots, potatoes, beets) or soft fruit (melons, ripe pears, bananas) with a children’s knife
6-8 years old ·         Toss a fruit or green salad together
·         Make their own sandwiches or tortilla wraps
·         Write healthy snacks and meals they’d like to eat
·         Invent their own smoothie recipe
·         Use basic kitchen equipment under your supervision and instruction: grater, toaster, and blender
8-11 years old ·         Use a small knife for easy-to-cut foods
·         Make their own healthy snacks and easy meals
·         Use the microwave and stove, with your help
Pre-teens and teens ·         Follow recipes
·         Cook easy meals throughout the week, depending on skill level

Dinner pancakes on a white plate with a side bowl of black bean salsaKid-Friendly Recipes to Try

  1. Watermelon Popsicles

With the weather warming up, nothing says summer quite like homemade popsicles! With no added sugar, try this simple recipe for a healthy family treat the entire family will enjoy. Don’t have popsicle molds on hand? Use an ice cube tray and popsicle sticks cut in half!

2. Dinner Pancakes with Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salsa

Put a twist on taco night and try these zucchini and corn pancakes! This vegetarian meal is loaded in flavour and colour. Younger kids can help with stirring, mixing, and adding ingredients to a bowl. Older kids can help with grating, chopping, and flipping the pancakes.

  1. Tomato and Corn Pizza

What kid doesn’t love pizza? This quick and simple recipe will allow kids to pick and choose their own healthy toppings on top of a healthy whole wheat pizza crust.

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