Aug 20

7 Simple Tasks to Get Kids Involved in Meal Preparation

Cooking With Kids

I still have my very first cookbook -- I Cooked It, copyright 1975 by the Newman Parents Association of New Orleans, LA... This snazzy little neon yellow and hot pink number was given to me by my Aunt Helen on September 2nd, 1983, which would have made me all of 7 years old.

Looking at it today, I'm left wondering how it made its way into her hands from New Orleans to Mansfield, OH. If I had to guess, I'd imagine she picked it up at a tag sale and tucked it away for the right occasion.

I Cooked It Collage

I can still remember the thrill of paging through it to select a recipe to make, and then making a list to shop from at the grocery store. She even took the time to write a little note on the first recipe we made together on the morning of September 3rd, 1983 -- Lost Bread, just a simple French toast recipe, but I recall thinking it was one of the best meals I'd ever had up to that point.

I loved spending the night at her house because I knew it meant choosing another recipe to try, and she was always a patient and willing assistant, knowing when to lend a helping hand and just when to stand back and let me fly. We tackled other recipes like Egg In The Hole and Blanket Dogs, and I loved every minute of it.

Cooking With Kids

Fast forward to today, I now know that her patient demeanor probably didn't come as easily as she made it seem. Let's face it -- cooking with kids can be a challenge. I'll admit that there have been plenty of times when I've ordered my own kids out of the kitchen so that I can get dinner on the table in a hurry, but I also make sure that I bring them in to help when we have more time to work with.

Studies have shown that kids who prepare meals with their parents are more likely to eat healthier as adults. It just makes sense, doesn't it? Giving kids the tools and knowledge to prepare healthy, home-cooked meals means that they don't need to rely on fast food or prepackaged mixes to put dinner on the table.

It's never too young to start inviting kids into the kitchen to help out. Even the youngest in your crew can pitch in on the simpler tasks.

7 Simple Tasks to Get Kids Involved in Meal Preparation


  • curious kids
  • a relatively clean kitchen with utensils
  • a kid-friendly recipe + ingredients


  1. Planning -- let them help decide what meal to make (within reason, of course).
  2. Finding ingredients and utensils (and then putting them away) -- teaches kids about kitchen organization and introduces how to clean as you go.
  3. Washing and prepping -- washing fruits and veggies and tearing lettuce are easy tasks for younger children, while peeling and slicing can be introduced to older children.
  4. Measuring, pouring, sprinkling and mixing -- measuring is a great introduction to fractions, and even little ones can assist with the pouring and mixing.
  5. Shaping, rolling and stretching -- little hands have fun getting messy while learning about portion control.
  6. Reading recipes -- older children can read the recipes aloud, demonstrates the importance of following directions in order.
  7. Timing -- allow kids to set the timer according to the recipe.

So what are you waiting for? Start making some wonderful kitchen memories with your own kids.

Simple rice recipes are a great place to begin, and while you're at it, you might be interested in entering a fun contest that Uncle Ben's is hosting... Film a 3-minute cooking video with your child and submit it in the Ben's Beginners contest. You could win $15,000 for your family and a $30,000 cafeteria makeover for your school!

Cooking with your children makes for a great beginning! Visit and click on The Ben’s Beginners™ Cooking Contest page to learn more!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Uncle Ben's. The opinions and text are all mine.

by Tara | 0 comments

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