Empowering your Kids to Cook

teaching kids to cookIt’s fun to see a renewed interest in nutrition, cooking, and canning in this generation of  20-somethings. Yet, many of this age group have been left behind in being taught how to cook.  A generation ago 80% of Baby Boomers could cook from their pantry without a recipe; today 20% of their children can prepare a meal from scratch.

Teaching kids to cook isn’t difficult and provides them with lifelong skills.  As the old adage goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  You’d be surprised what children can learn at a young age with a bit of coaching. Soon, they’ll have skills that will serve them for a lifetime.

Follow this model for a helpful way to train kids to cook:

  1. You show them, while they watch you
  2. Do it together
  3. They show you, while you watch them

Here’s what your budding chefs can learn:

Food Prep Ages 3-7Choose a courseMeasure and pourTurn appliances on/ off


Peel, tear, wash

Ages 8-12

Choose MenuRecipe grate/chop/sliceFollow Recipe
Ages 13 and up

Plan a whole mealHost a family partyMake Hour devoursPrepare a course
Table & Cleaning Set and Clear TableWash dishes/load DWFold napkinsDecorate Table

Cut flowers & put in vase

Wipe counters

Get ideas for table scape on-lineSet a formal tableSet different types of meal stylesScrub heavy pans All cleaning jobs
Oven & Stove Stir & fry on cooktopLearn donenessSafety Cook on the stove and in the ovenLearn Basic Terms:    Simmer, boil, broilBBQ on the grill Learn advanced terms:
Tools & Gadgets Use:Hand toolsPeelersSilverware Knife Use: Hot padsElectric toolsKnives Use: All tools

*You decide the best timing when to transition from modeling to supervising.

Enjoy your time together!  Post your pictures.  I’d love to see them.

Have fun with budding chefs,

For more ideas visit:  www.thefamilydinnerproject.orgNurturing My Mini Chefs.



Stephanie Allen is Co-founder and President of Dream Dinners and a New York Times best-selling co-author of The Hour that Matters Most.
Naturally a visionary and optimist, Stephanie hopes to inspire America through her nurturing voice of encouragement, assuring families…    

“You’re doing a great job!”