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Let Kids Cook!

Today, October 24th is Food Day, and Food Day 2013 is challenging kids to get in the kitchen and learn how to cook. Here’s why kids get so much benefit from learning how to cook!

Did you know that 28% of adults don’t know how to cook?

If you are a parent who wasn’t trained to cook, is intimidated by cooking, or has a limited repertoire in the kitchen, you know that this can be a significant obstacle to feeding your family. What happens to children when their parents don’t know how to cook? They may dine out more, eat more processed food, and are less likely to learn how to cook.

At one point or another, most kids are ready to experiment in the kitchen and this can be a gateway for parents to explore cooking too. There are several reasons why we need to let kids cook:

  • It’s a science experiment. Transformation of ingredients happens right before your eyes! Many school-age kids are fascinated by science and experimentation.
  • It’s hands-on learning at its best. Piaget, the famous child psychologist, believes that when children are able to dig in and do it, they learn and remember new concepts and skills better.
  • When children learn a new task and succeed, their self-esteem builds. Cooking is a great way to let children experience success at their own hands.
  • Cooking provides immediate feedback, and allows children the opportunity to figure out mistakes and correct them.
  • Learning to cook is a continuum, building skill upon skill, and allowing for new skills once old skills have been mastered.
  • A life skill is learned. All children and teens eventually become adults and will need (or want) to know how to cook, for themselves, others or their own family.

In Fearless Feeding, my co-authored book with Maryann Jacobsen, we talk quite a bit about getting kids involved in the kitchen. We even have a list of how parents can get kids involved at each stage of development, from stirring as a young toddler to making a meal for the family as a teen. We feel that cooking is such an important skill, that we devoted our recipes in the School-Age and Teen section of the book to recipes these age groups can make on their own.

Here’s one of my favorites, which my kids have been making for years:

Egg in a Hole


Glass with a large mouth (4 to 5-inch diameter) or biscuit cutter

1 slice of whole wheat bread (or other bread)

1 egg

cooking spray, or oil


Make a hole in the center of the bread by pressing the glass opening onto the bread, creating a circle and a “frame.” Spray cooking spray (or oil) onto a pan or skillet and turn the burner on to medium heat. Butter both sides of the bread circle and place it on the hot skillet, alongside the frame. Crack the egg and place it inside the frame. Cook until the egg is set and the bread is browned; flip the whole thing, as well as the bread circle, and cook the other sides.

Makes one serving.

How do you get your kids in the kitchen to cook?

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  1. I couldn’t agree more. As a kid I always helped my mom in the kitchen and I made a full course meal for my entire family from scratch all by myself with mom’s supervision at the age of 9! I still remember it vividly after 30 years. I still cook everything from scratch. Needless to say that kind of upbringing is instilled in me and I pass it on to my child. She loves to cook and help in the kitchen. She is 5 and very able.
    There are so many wonderful benefits in cooking with kids…
    I am also working on my book Cooking with kids and my child is a very big help and inspiration.
    Thanks for writing this.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Love this! We just bought the Kids’ Kitchen – which is a recipe box with 40 laminated recipe cards in it (for some reason this is easier than a book with kids – or more fun) for my 6 and 4 year old boys. We’ve made two recipes already and they were so proud to be able to “make dinner” (at this age it’s a lot of me doing stuff – but the 6 year old is learning to read the recipes, gather ingredients, use the can open, carrot peeler etc). They’ve also had a ton of fun putting together menus of meals for other nights. I’ll definitely try the egg in a hole – my boys love eggs!