Parents sometimes grimace at the thought of their kids “helping” in the kitchen, but with 3 boys, I’ve learned that it can actually be fun AND a great learning experience! My middle child is the most enthusiastic cook in the family, and actually helps me quite often in the kitchen. It’s fun to see how excited he gets to prepare the night’s meal.

There are some food prep tasks that are perfect for children to help with in the kitchen. These tasks/skills keep them engaged, while at the same time learning valuable skills like food safety, math, and reading! Need some inspiration? Here are a few kid-friendly tasks for the kitchen:

  • Wash Produce: Children generally love water play, and washing produce can be a natural way to put them to work AND have fun. If you’re making a pie, have your child wash off the apples. Making mashed potatoes for a holiday meal? Give your children the job of scrubbing the potatoes.
  • Sifting Dry Ingredients: This task might be more appropriate for an older child (depending on the mess you are comfortable with!). Many holiday baking recipes requiring sifting dry ingredients, so enlist the help of your children, while you work on other aspects of the recipe. A sifter will come in very handy during this task, and it’s fun for the kids to use!
  • Stirring Batter: Let’s be honest, it can get tiring stirring all of that batter or sauce for recipes! Children usually have a lot of excess energy, and you can harness it by putting them in charge of stirring. I suggest using an oversize bowl to avoid losing any crucial ingredients and to help contain any potential messes!
  • Rolling Dough: This is one of my boys’ favorite things to do in the kitchen. Whether it’s rolling out pizza dough (which we have at least once a week!) or cookie dough, they are always up for rolling! We actually have a few kid-sized rollers that are perfect for smaller hands. To help prevent the cutting board from sliding around the counter, place a damp paper towel directly underneath.
  • Mashing Ingredients: Similar to rolling, mashing requires you to put in a little elbow grease (also known as draining your children’s extra energy!). With the holidays around the corner, you will have extra helpers for the mashed potatoes!
  • Clean Up: There are a number of tasks children can do to help clean up in the kitchen. Give them a broom and have them sweep the floor. Learning to get the pile into a dust pan will help them with fine motor coordination.

Use some of these tasks and your kids will be at work in the kitchen in no time! Encouraging your children to help prepare meals in the kitchen will make them much more likely to try their creations! If you have a picky eater in you family, involving them in food prep can be one of the best decisions you will make.