5 Traditions for Teaching Kids to Cook


Get Creative!

Nourish your kids' natural desire to experiment and explore their worlds by encouraging them to try out their own recipes and ingredient combinations. Cookbooks geared specifically to kids are a great starting point, and you can find dozens of fun titles online, at the library or in your local bookstore. Here are a few good ones to try:

  • Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes (Tricycle Press) -- Simple, healthy recipes with illustrated instructions and ingredients lists that even preschoolers can follow
  • Betty Crocker Kids Cook! (Wiley) -- Very basic recipes for young school-age children
  • The Better Homes & Gardens New Junior Cookbook (Wiley) -- Kid-tested recipes designed to appeal to ages 8 to 12
  • The DK Children's Cookbook (Dorling Kindersley) -- Beautiful photography and simple but sophisticated recipes for children ages 9 to 12…or even a little older
  • The Healthy Body Cookbook (Wiley) -- Combines recipes with fun facts and trivia about health, your body, and the digestive system. Geared toward middle school kids.

Once kids have the basics down, they'll be eager to come up with their own variations. If that includes ingredient pairings that you never thought you'd try ("You put peanut butter on what?"), just remember that you've made them eat lima beans, so surely you can stomach a few bites.

For an international twist on cooking with your kids, introduce ethnic food nights that go beyond tacos, pizza and pasta. Let kids research different cultures and plan their own menus. Mexican, Spanish, Chinese, Indian, Greek and Thai foods are great places to start. You might also check your kids' school curriculum and ask them to cook foods that correspond with the countries, cultures or languages they are studying.