Kids in the Kitchen: 4 Moms

moms of many manageWelcome to this weeks edition of 4 Moms, 35 Kids: How Moms of Many Manage.  This week we’re talking about cooking with kids.


Do you want your 12 year old to be able to say, “Mom, don’t worry about dinner tonight. I’ll make it.” ? Do you want to be able to ask your 9 year old to go make some bread? Then let your children help you in the kitchen from the time they are little.


I love having children who know their way around the kitchen. It’s a blessing to be able to share the kitchen responsibilities and my kids are much better and more creative cooks than I am.


By the time they are around 5 or 6 most of our children are able to follow a simple recipe for cookies or biscuits and by the time they are 11 they are able to get a full meal on the table, from planning and preparing to making sure that everything is hot when it’s time to eat.


Cooking is complex, but children will learn if you simply allow them to spend time in the kitchen with you.


Whenever I have a task to do in the kitchen I always have at least one or two small children helping. Having a little helper will slow things down, but I can’t think of a better use of my time than to spend it with my kids. I’m not only training a little one to be a big help in the kitchen, I’m also building a beautiful relationship with this eternal being that God has placed in my care.

Little helpers

  • For the sake of logistics I usually limit my little helpers to 2 at a time.
  • Each little helper has their own small chair or stool to stand on so they are able to see and help.
  • Start with simple tasks such as pouring pre-measured ingredients into the bowl and stirring, then move toward more independence such as measuring an ingredient all by themselves or cracking eggs.
  • Cleaning is part of cooking so be sure to teach them how to clean-up also.
  • The kitchen can be a hazardous place, be sure you’ve been diligent to train your children in obedience before you have them  close to things that are hot or sharp.
  • When it’s time to stir, hold onto their hands until they learn how to stir without flopping all the ingredients onto the counter or floor.
  • Teach them to never measure ingredients over the bowl.
  • Teach them the ‘right’ way to do things. (i.e. set the measuring cup with the oil in it down on the counter and get down so your eye is at the level of the oil to see if you’ve measured exactly the right amount)  We all use short cuts and they will eventually learn to use short cuts, but until they understand more about cooking (i.e. too much salt will easily ruin a recipe) it’s better that they do things the ‘right’ way.
  • Use a small clear bowl for your children to practice cracking eggs, it makes it simple to fish out any egg shells.


As we work, I talk to my little ones.  I tell them what different things are and what we’re doing. I explain to them how to get to the bottom of the bowl when they stir, what ground beef should look like when it’s browned, etc.


I let my helper taste ingredients as much as possible. My theory is that they’ll be better cooks because they’ll know what flavor everything has, a side benefit is that they understand that not everything that goes into the bowl or pot tastes nice by itself or in large doses and they’re less likely to snitch without permission. (We also wash hands frequently.)


If we’re making something that involves dough, they get a bit to shape and cook for themselves and of course the cook gets to taste test all of their creations.

Young independents

As our children become more comfortable in the kitchen and are able to read, we begin to give them more freedom. Instead of helping with a recipe, they are able to follow one on their own. During this stage I’m always available to answer questions and I encourage them to ask if they don’t know.


My best tip for this stage is; don’t look.


Our rule is that whatever mess you make in the kitchen you are responsible to clean up and as long as the kids follow that rule, I try not to comment on how they choose to do things or the mess that they create. I think this is one of the big reasons that my children love to cook and are much more creative in the kitchen than I am.


This is an exciting stage for both the young cook and for the rest of the family.  Amber will never forget the amazingly lovely, terrific smelling, special treat of chocolate chip pancakes that she made with way too much salt and just a few weeks ago Alyssa read 2 1/2 cups of flour as 2 half cups of flour and we enjoyed chocolate chip puddles rather than chocolate chip cookies. Mistakes are part of the process and while each of the children have had a big flub, I think that it’s ONLY been one for each of them.


Eventually the children become more skilled in following the recipe and keeping the mess to a minimum and then you have a new independent cook.


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15 Responses to Kids in the Kitchen: 4 Moms
  1. Kimarie
    February 10, 2011 | 7:29 am

    Such a sweet post! I especially love the small glass bowl tip for eggs. My 4, 5, and 7yo. love to help with that!

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  2. Nicki
    February 10, 2011 | 11:14 am

    Oh you are so right about the payoff when letting kids help in the kitchen! My 14 year old was able to do much of the cooking during my pregnancy. She finally got to where she would ask, “What should I make for dinner tonight?” That was so helpful! My 10 year old is also good at many things in the kitchen, like chopping potatoes, scrambling eggs, etc. Now they are helping to teach the little ones to rinse dishes and set the table. It looks like so much fun, that the little guys want to be involved!

    Oh, and my oldest is becoming a master cake decorator, so much that now we always bring a beautiful cake to any gathering we attend!

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  3. Jama Joyner
    February 10, 2011 | 12:51 pm

    Love the “don’t look” tip!

    Only 1 major mistake? Wish I could say the same for myself! 🙂

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  4. Celee
    February 10, 2011 | 1:21 pm

    My 9 yr old daughter does really well in the kitchen and has made cookies many times, but my ocd never allowed her to arrange the cookie dough on the sheet. A couple of Sundays ago we were rushing around at the last minute getting ready for a fellowship lunch after church (I thought my cheesy potato veggie soup should be made up that morning) and I really needed her to finish the cookies on her own. We were all shocked when we the timer went off and we saw one giant cookie spanning both sheets. We didn’t take “the cookie” to church since it was much more done on the edges than the center, but the kids did enjoy scraping off bits throughout the afternoon to enjoy. And now my daughter knows how NOT to arrange the dough on the cookie sheets. I learned my lesson, too : ). Let them help even when it hurts me to watch. It will pay off later!

    Celee

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  5. Deb - Mom of 3 Girls
    February 10, 2011 | 4:07 pm

    I so wish my mom had done this with me when I was younger! I never really learned how to cook and even now I don’t enjoy it because I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing a lot of the time. I liked reading your tips because I know I need to get my own girls into the kitchen more so they can learn to cook, and more importantly – to enjoy it. Thanks!

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  6. Jessica
    February 10, 2011 | 5:21 pm

    I love cooking with kids! It’s such a valuable thing for them to learn.

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  7. Dawn@OneFaithfulMom
    February 10, 2011 | 6:37 pm

    I have not been as faithful in this area as I should have been with my older kids. My younger ones though are doing much better. My 9 yr old son can scramble eggs, make grilled cheese, Ramen noodles, etc.
    Right before I started to read this post, my 16 yr old daughter asked me if she could make supper for Sunday night. She can only make 1 complete meal, but that is one of her personal goals for this year: To be able to make several complete meals.
    Thanks for the encouragement in this area!!

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  8. kate
    February 10, 2011 | 10:23 pm

    I was definitely guided to this site, this is my first visit. My husband said today he feels that I need to teach my children to cook- I have five under age eight. Anyway I was feeling very defeated about the whole thing, thought it was too early and unsafe. Thanks so much for helping me accept this challenge. Coming here has opened my eyes. Thank you.

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  9. Valerie
    February 11, 2011 | 2:29 am

    ouch….ouch…ouch. This is a point on which I am a total failure. Ok, *breath*, I am just going to say it….. I HATE HAVING MY KIDS IN THE KITCHEN. I feel like I need to say that in front of an AA meeting but for moms who don’t love teaching kids to cook. However, I have been really convicted about this for a while now. The reason I use the word convicted is because I realize that the REASON I don’t like kids in the kitchen is laziness. Which is obviously not good. I hate the extra clean up, I hate the spills and messups, and all the time it takes to train them. BUT, I am fully convinced (and have been now for about a year) that it is allllll worth it! I need to train my daughter how to cook for herself. My mom didn’t really teach me and I really struggled my first few year on my own. So I say all that to say, I am going to ACTIVELY work on letting them in more, especially my daughter, and training them. I started to do it a little bit last year, and then just got back to taking over things. It’s surrender time 🙂

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  10. Taryn
    February 11, 2011 | 9:35 am

    When I had my 5th child,Angela, my 12-year-old and 10-year-old sons did the cooking and cleaning. Charlie and Jonathan cooked and cleaned when our 6th child,Michael, was born three years later. They are now married with children and still enjoy cooking and cleaning. We had 3 boys first then 2 girls then another son. Abeka, Christian Light Education and Landmark Freedom Baptist have good Home Economics(cooking,etc.) electives. I used a home-ec course with our daughters for homeschooling junior high and high school. Someone said to hit an egg on the counter and you won’t get any shells.

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  11. Norah Nick
    February 11, 2011 | 1:38 pm

    Hahahaha!!! 2 1/2 cups read as 2 half cups!!! How cute is that? But perfectly logical! I definitely see how she could interpret it that way. And I’m sure the chocolate chip puddles were delcious anyway. 🙂

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  12. Kim Harris
    February 11, 2011 | 2:03 pm

    Such a cute story! I love being in the kitchen with my kids. It’s learning and bonding time for us. They love it too! Now that my kids are older, they’re not afraid of the kitchen.

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  13. Tisha
    February 15, 2011 | 4:16 pm

    Thank you for teaching me how to let my kids be creative in the kitchen! I have always let them help, but I wasn’t giving them enough freedom to cook (and make a mess) their way. Now I’m just leaving my older ones alone and letting them call on me if they have questions or need help with a step, and we’re all enjoying the results!

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  14. Jo
    March 7, 2011 | 10:31 pm

    Another tip for cracking eggs – crack all the eggs into a bowl, let set for a bit and the shells will sink to the bottom.
    I love cooking with my kids and we have had lots of adventures! We’ve done a flatbread ‘study’ making different flatbreads from around the world which was a great way to let them all be involved since they are very simple recipes. (4 under 7 years old so very doable)
    My favorite mistake growing up was also a mis-read of measurement in which I used 3 cups of brown sugar instead of 3/4 cup for chocolate chip cookies. They were *very* crunchy but still got eaten!
    -thrilled with your blog! try to check it every few months you have a gift for encouragement!

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  15. Ruth
    July 24, 2012 | 1:50 pm

    Unlike all my siblings, I had cooked quite a bit before I finally made my “big” mistake as a teenager. I was attempting to make doughnuts, but I didn’t understand when the recipe called for “2 pkg. yeast”. My mother always bought yeast in bulk, so I had no idea you could buy it in individual portions. I put in an entire CUP of yeast! Luckily, my mom came in to help soon enough to salvage the recipe (quadrupling the recipe cut down on the overwhelming yeastiness), and we had an enormous batch of doughnuts to freeze for the rest of the year. Even though we spent hours cooking all of those doughnuts, I think the retelling of the story was worth all the work. After that day, I learned to ask questions if I didn’t understand a recipe. Now that I’m grown up with my own daughters, I’m looking forward to seeing what big mistakes they will make in the kitchen.

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