How to Teach Your Kids to Cook (Without the Mess)

By Sarah Hunt, AZFB Communications Intern


Photo: Andrzej Rembowski via Pixabay


Being taught how to cook is one of the most vital life skills children learn growing up. I’m still not the best at it, but knowing the basics helps tons when it’s time for your kids to head off to college or live on their own for the first time.

I learned these cooking tips when I was growing up, and they have definitely helped me become better at cooking. Hopefully they can help your children as well!


Cooking Tips for Different Ages


  1. Start small by teaching your kids ages 3-7 easy, no-bake recipes, such as pudding. My sister enjoyed mixing the pudding ingredients together when she was little. She loved to have “pudding parties” with her siblings and aunts. This makes cooking fun and easy for them. In addition, avoid using the oven or knifes so they don’t try to make recipes with those tools on their own.
  2. Supervise their cooking on the stove when you think they’re old enough. I learned how to make scrambled eggs when I was 8 or 9, but the right age just varies depending on the child’s maturity. Scrambled and fried eggs are simple and a great breakfast staple with plenty of protein to keep them fueled throughout the day. You can also teach them box recipes like brownies. This will require a little more assistance, to make sure they preheat the oven before mixing ingredients and cover the brownies after (common mistakes I made when I was younger!).
  3. Let them pack their own lunch. They can do this from elementary school through high school. Buy healthy snacks like fruit leather, trail mix or nuts, hummus with crackers, and veggies like carrots, grape tomatoes, broccoli, and snap peas. Teach them how to make a variety of sandwiches to mix things up. See this article for ideas for different kinds of sandwiches. Try different combinations that you wouldn’t normally try, like peanut butter, Nutella and bananas, cucumbers and cream cheese, or bacon, provolone, avocado and tomato.
  4. Have them make dinner once a week when they’re confident with cooking on their own. This will mostly likely they be when they are in their teenage years. Teach them easy recipes for meals like oven-cooked barbeque chicken. Easy, fresh, and nutritious vegetable sides like baked potatoes or steamed broccoli can be prepared in the microwave. Put the food in a Tupperware with a little water and a corner of the lid ajar. Heat smaller veggies like broccoli for 3 minutes. Heat bigger veggies like potatoes for 6 minutes. Top with butter, salt, and other desired toppings and enjoy!
  5. Teach them how to meal prep when they’re teenagers so when they live on their own, they will already have meals ready to eat for when they’re in between classes or on a lunch break at work. Buy bento boxes or plastic Tupperware of the same size, big enough to fit a meal but small enough to put in a lunchbox. Plan your meals to have starches, protein, veggies, fruit, and dairy in them. A good example of a meal would be brown rice with steamed veggies and orange chicken or beef with soy sauce. Steam a few different kinds of vegetables and put different ones in each box, so they don’t get tired of eating the same thing.


Still not sure what to make? Find more recipes on Fill Your Plate’s recipe database!

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