Kids in the kitchen

Updated 3 Apr 2018.


Research shows that when kids are involved with food (from gardening to choosing, shopping, cooking... and cleaning up!) they eat healthier. So if you want your family to eat healthier at home these school holidays (and teach your kids some lifelong skills and healthy habits) check out our Nutrition and Physical Activity Manager, Steve Pratt's, top tips for getting the kids involved.

Give yourself extra time in the kitchen

It's going to be slow, and it's going to be messy, and the food might look a little funny. If that's not OK, maybe choose a different time. These should be fun, relaxing experiences for everyone!

Read the recipe thoroughly...

and think of something that everyone can do. This might include "busy work" to keep little hands occupied. Like... stirring the flour, sorting the lettuce leaves or polishing the cherry tomatoes. This is especially useful if you're cooking with kids of different ages or abilities.

Pick age-appropriate tasks

This will be different for every family, but these are our rough guidelines.

2- 3 year olds

  • Washing vegetables and fruit 
  • Tearing lettuce and salad greens 
  • Stirring dry ingredients or tossing salads

3-4 year olds

  • Mashing potatoes and bananas 
  • Mixing together batters 
  • Adding ingredients 
  • Spreading

4-6 year olds

  • Measure out ingredients 
  • Set the table 
  • Kneading 
  • Some peeling and grating 
  • Using a butter knife on soft foods - avocado, mushroom, berries

6-8 year olds

  • Make a simple breakfast 
  • Doing the washing up 
  • Most peeling, grating and some chopping

8-11 year olds

  • Peeling, grating and chopping 
  • Can make their own school lunch 
  • Help to plan meals 
  • Use the stove and oven with supervision

11-12 year olds

  • Follow simple recipes 
  • Use the stove and oven


  • Could be in charge of making one meal for the family each week


Give young kids some choice... but not too much

The basic principle is that parents choose what's on offer, and kids choose what's on their plate. Try "which two vegetables do you want on your pizza?" rather than "what do you want on your pizza?". You're more likely to end up with a healthy meal that way!

Safety first (and last)

Make sure everyone washes their hands and ties back long hair. Be aware of all the hot, sharp and electric things around. Make sure the level of supervision is appropriate for the kid and the task!

Food preparation has loads of teachable moments. From nutrition to reading skills, measuring and maths, to teamwork and sharing. 


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