3 Ways to Encourage Kids to Cook

Last updated: March 24, 2017, at 9:36 a.m. PT

Originally published: December 16, 2016, at 2:22 p.m. PT

Try these three tried-and-true ideas for getting kids to get involved in food preparation.

1. Get messy

Kids love to engage with food. Not only does it help them develop sensory skills and try new things, but also connects them to what they’re doing. One way to try this is by making a healthy banana pudding in a bag. All it involves is unsweetened apple sauce, half a banana, some granola, nonfat vanilla yogurt and a sealable plastic bag. Kids can scoop all of the ingredients into the bag (enter messy) and zip it shut. Once it’s in the bag, they can squeeze it all together, mashing up the banana and mixing it in with the other ingredients. Once it has been successfully “blended,” we hand out spoons and they can eat it right from the bag!

2. Empower

It can be very discouraging for a kid to hear that they aren't old enough to do something. Although it may require a lot my more instruction and supervision, teaching children how to handle a knife in the kitchen can be a great skill. Allow kids to engage with cutting fruits and veggies by supervising them with plastic serrated knives. 

3. Stay positive

We have all had the moment where we tried a new food and instantly were hit with the reaction to spit it out and make the puckered up “ick” face. When we do that, what happens to those around us? Most of the time everyone has a similar reaction regardless of their feelings toward the food; kids do the same, but that reaction is magnified one hundred times over.

When introducing new foods, a good tip is to implement a “no ick face” rule and in place of the face have them say something along the lines of, “I don’t like it now, but I’ll try it again.” It helps to reinforce a positive environment as well as the attitude of trying new foods again even if something wasn’t received well the first time. 


Get your kids interested in food and cooking by signing them up for a local cooking class. Check out a list and schedule here.