Yes I know, it is much faster, neater, and quieter to cook dinner solo in your kitchen as opposed to having a toddler as your sous chef. When you are in the kitchen alone, you do not need to field questions and stop and start the simplest tasks over and over again. You will lose your spot in your recipe exactly 0 times when you are cooking alone. You will be able to remember what you need from the fridge by the time you walk over and open the door. When you can cook in peace you finally have the opportunity to complete a “project” called making dinner. I get it!
BUT, I also see the magic in the little one’s eyes when they get to help with grownup tasks. When they ask if they can help and immediately run off to find the stool before I can answer, I try hard to pause and think about how their little world brightens when they get to do some chopping and stirring. At the end of a long day, it is not always easy for me to say yes. In fact, most of the time I struggle.
If you also struggle with having your kids help you in the kitchen, I would gently encourage you to give it a try. It doesn’t need to be every meal or every day. Once in a while is okay. They won’t do it your way, but they will grow an appreciation for the work you do each day. One day your child will be able to return the favor!
In addition to measuring and pouring, which are always fun for kids, here are some simple kid kitchen tasks.
Kid Kitchen Tasks
Kids Make Sandwiches
Making a sandwich is a big step towards independence in the kitchen. When a kid can make themselves a sandwich, they can pack their own lunch.
Sandwich making is a good way start teaching kids some food safety too. Always use separate utensils for each part – one for the jam, one for the cream cheese, etc. We don’t want any jam getting into the cream cheese container. No cross-contamination around here!
Kids Can Pack Lunch
Washing and putting fruit into their lunch box is a simple task even the littlest preschools can help with. They will take pride in doing it themselves and may even get some counting in! How many grapes are in there?
Kids Can Grate Cheese
This one looks a little scary! But by investing in a $10 Kevlar glove, your kiddo’s hands will stay safe from the sharp edges. Grating cheese takes a lot of effort so if you kid has some staying power, it will keep them occupied for a good bit of time.
Kids Can Cut Veggies And More
You might be surprised to see how well a plastic knife or butter knife can cut without risking an injury. Let your kids start off with soft foods like cheese or mushrooms. Once they get the hang of the motion, they can try harder fruits and vegetables. Sometimes a little setup is needed by cutting the bigger item into smaller strips. Then the kids can take the dicing from there!
Kids Can Peel
Peeling garlic (and shallots and onions too) is one of the simplest and safest kid kitchen tasks. They may or may not like the smell of garlic, but their little fingers are the perfect size for getting those pesky skins off.
Kids Can Stir Things Up
This list of kid kitchen tasks would not be complete without stirring and whisking. They absolutely love mixing anything in the kitchen. Do yourself a favor and use an extra large bowl when they are helping. You’ll save yourself a little clean-up!
Kids Can Roll Out Dough
This is so fun for kids! Especially when it’s for sugar cookies. Of course will also like cutting out the shapes from the dough. But they also like having a try at the “heavy lifting” of using the rolling pin.
Kids Can Shuck Corn
Shucking corn is a great task for kids. It can take them outside so they don’t make a big mess in the kitchen. A task like shucking corn can also keep a child busy for a good chunk of time while you’re working on the rest of the meal. Other types of food prep that fall into this category are things like shelling peas, trimming green beans, and taking the stems off cherry tomatoes.
Kids Can Make Rolls
My kids seem to love anything involving dough. They like the way it feels and are always jumping in on the action. There was a time I was very concerned about how my rolls would bake up if a child rolled them up. Would they still rise? Will the rolls still be edible? Did I waste my afternoon on this? Then I let go of needing to control the process. And to my surprise, their rolls still looked and tasted like rolls.
When you begin inviting your kids to help in the kitchen, remember to be ready for a mess. It’s normal. Also be ready for the kid to not finish the task you give them. Even the most enthusiastic kids will likely peter out before they have cut all the vegetables or peeled all the garlic.