It is a real thing that once your kids know how to cook, you can holler at them at meal prep time and say, “Hey, I need you to go cook dinner for us tonight please.” Then you can go about your business of running other household tasks while your children efficiently cook a meal.
It’s one of the coolest things ever, and I’m not just talking about handing them boxes of mac-and-cheese.
As the mom of four sons currently ages 11, almost 14, almost 16, and 18 – all of whom can cook at various skill levels – I can’t say enough about the importance of teaching your kids to cook. Is it easier to just go into the kitchen and do it yourself? When the kids are younger, absolutely. There were many times I banned all my little boys from the room so I could just get it done. But allow me to remind you about sentence number one up there. Our kids need to know how to cook! It is worth taking the effort to teach them to cook when they are young so that when they are older they can wait on you hand and foot (and also feed themselves well and all that).
Boy #2 always walked around on the counter-top (close to the stove) while cooking.
He has grown out of this habit. We are grateful.
It’s been fun to revisit some pictures of my little cooking angels from back in the day. For some teenage reason, they don’t like me to take pictures of them cooking now. I mean, I think they’re still cute when they’re slicing and scrambling, but they usually say something about “hair not fixed” and “really, Mom?” so I put the camera away and let them go about their boiling and chopping. But cooking with these little guys has led to being cooked for by big guys, so I’ll just treasure it in my heart and leave my camera in my office.
My children with knives…
Walking on the counter-top by the stove aside, let’s talk about kitchen safety. Knives are almost always involved in cooking. There are so many questions about this! At what age is it safe to give kids a knife? What is the best way to teach them to cut safely? What should they be allowed to cut?
At this point in the mind of a parent, we get too scared to risk it and banish the kids from the kitchen (to play in the street). It seems safer.
Don’t give way to fear, and don’t hide the knives! You simply need to teach your kids how to use a knife safely. Just released today, here’s a fantastic, inexpensive tool for us!
Katie from Kitchen Stewardship put together a Knife Skills Training for Kids Video Series. In fact, she has put together an entire, incredible eCourse on teaching kids to cook because she is nothing short of amazing. Through January 18, Katie is kicking off her eCourse by offering this Knife Skills Training course for FREE!
Malachi (my 11-year old) and I just signed up and watched Video #1 from start to finish. It is super! I love how Katie put catchy names to the different knife safety rules and methods to help kids remember the safe way to hold and use knives. (My favs are Top Chop and Up and Over Soldier – you have to watch the video to know what these are and to see how her methods make so much sense!) She created free downloadable flashcards to use along with the lesson too.
Malachi ended up taking the entire Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. It has been a game changer at our house! I can’t say enough good about it.
Want a freebie?
Sign up here to get a great little booklet filled with great (healthy!) snacks kids can make themselves!
This is how we work ourselves out of a job, help our kids appreciate the hard work it takes to prepare a meal, and keep all their fingers intact. Join me?
What have been your experiences with your kids in the kitchen?
This post contains affiliate links.
My boys are 2 and 3 and love to spend time in the kitchen with me. We make mini-muffins for first breakfast (eaten in the car at 6am before we get to the babysitter’s) every week. They help to count when we measure the ingredients and love to mix and scoop into the muffin tins. We also make homemade pizza and they help to roll out the dough and put the toppings on. S3 started washing dishes this week – his choice – love it! I look forward to the days I can leave them in the kitchen and walk away! :-)
I taught all 4 of my kids (2 girls, 2 boys) to cook, clean, take care of a car, and basic child care. Now that they are grown and gone they can feed and care for themselves. I think I should have charged my daughter-in-law extra – she got a model that was already broken in!
My 2 year old is very gung-ho about cooking. I overestimated his abilities and let him use a paring knife to cut banana slices. He got the teeniest cut but now he’ll tell you, “Knives make owies….Knives for mama-daddy only!” I felt a HUGE stab of guilt for giving him a knife far too soon…but part of me is glad that he truly KNOWS why knives are only for mommy and daddy right now.
I’m looking forward to the video and to a more age appropriate time for him to help with the chopping. For now, we stick to mixing the baked goods and fetching things from the fridge for mama.
I saw these on a Montessori website and my MIL got them for my son (2) for Christmas. He doesn’t quite get how to use them, and I keep a close eye on him, but your son could probably manage these!
I remember the time my 6 year old son was cutting potatoes for me for the first time. We had a thing going (greatest thing ever!) where the kids got to choose a meal and help me prepare it. We rotated through the kids at one per week. He chose meatloaf and parmesan potatoes. He was busily cutting the potatoes into chunks when he casually said “If I cut off my finger, we should tell the world not to let 6 year olds have sharp knives” His fingers remained intact and it was the first of many knife chopping adventures.
BUSY MOM IN AL says
We love this!! It has helped my younger kids cut celery and carrots for lunches. It is $7 but so worth it for the safety! It is still sharp enough to cut through vegetables.
HIC Wavy Crinkle Cutting Tool Serrator Salad Chopping Knife and Vegetable French Fry Slicer, Steel Blade, 7.25-Inches x 5-Inches
Is it a thing that 2 year olds want to help in the kitchen? I gave a butter knife to mine to use with his chicken and he loved it. :) here’s to the years later when our work in the kitchen together will pay off!
Thank you for writing this post and sharing your home life with us other moms!
I now plan to be brave and teach my own little turkeys how to use knives… : )
Robert D.Scott says
I have a happy family with two kids and a wife who takes care of her husband. I like to cook the delicious food for my family , which is my happiness . In the past , I think the kids are too young to use the knife . After read your sharing and , my thoughts have changed , maybe I should set for my kids how to use a knife !
Thanks for your sharing !
Sara @ ForeignersAtHome says
We live in Japan, and my daughter’s kindergarten gave each student a knife for Christmas! I’m talking a real knife! A real knife that I cut my finger on last week! I was so surprised, but had to assume that they’d used them at school, so I asked her how her teachers taught her to use it. She told me that the teacher says to hold the food you’re cutting “like a cat” (fingers curled under). After that, I was relieved that they’d done the scary part for me! (And really glad that now I know to tell my younger children to hold the food like a cat!)
WOW! It’s actually a good idea, it just sounds so different!!