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Great Ideas for Cooking with Kids

By Melissa Summers

I realized a few weeks ago my kids never help me cook. It’s not because they aren’t interested, it’s because I am anally retentive about them making a mess or ‘doing it wrong’ which is a really nice quality for a mother to have in case you were wondering.

Things you will hear me say while the kids are ‘helping’:
“Don’t put egg shells in the batter!”
“oh, whoa whoa whoa….careful with the flour!”
“Put the milk in slowly….slower…slow.”
“Here you can pour this in but I’m going to keep my hand on it while you do, which means you aren’t actually pouring.”
They help me for about 2 minutes and then move on. I can’t imagine why….Maybe tools will help me!

pretendsoup.jpgAsha at Parent Hacks opened the floor for discussion of everyone’s favorite children’s cookbooks. I had no idea there were so many, it’s almost like people like cooking. Weird. Asha is a fan of Mollie Katzen’s kids cookbooks, including Pretend Soup. Other mentions include The Children’s Quick and Easy Cookbook and the Rachel Ray ‘Cooking Rocks’ book.
lookandcook.jpgI think this Look and Cook Book  looks promising and adorable, maybe even simple enough to help me grow my cooking skills. The illustrations have a very WWII feel and the instructions give kids (and maybe adults) a good basic knowledge of the kitchen and cooking terms.

handstandkids.jpgThe Handstand Kids cookbook features kid cooks Izzy, Felix, Gabby, Marvin and Ari learning all about food. While learning to cook, kids learn about the culture and language of the place their recipes originated.

kidstools.jpgWilliams-Sonoma has a nice collection of children’s items, including sturdy aprons which can be personalized. I am fond of the bee style for obvious reasons but my little boy would consider the camoflauge dinosaur apron a ‘must have’. They’ve also got kid size tools (including a safety grater; my knuckles may need this item.)

applepeeler.jpgMaybe we can think of the kids as prep-chefs and outsource all the time consuming tasks to them.  The ultimate kid tool  is the apple peeler. Last year someone brought one of these to my son’s preschool class and entranced a room of fifteen 4-year-olds for hours. Apple pie anyone? It also peels potatoes, this is going to change my life.

bakery.jpgIf you’re not ready to share your real cooking with the kids, how about playing bakery? With real ingredients, decorations and signs Kiddley’s bakery idea is an excellent way to keep your OCD in check but your kids satisfied with ‘helping’ in the kitchen.

I’m turning over a new leaf and the kids are going to help me cook and I’m going to let them do it all by themselves. Okay, after we move. I can’t have flour on the floor for house showings!

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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I have similar concerns about the messes kids make when they help in the kitchen. I’ve gotten over it mostly after I realized that my daughter *loves* to peel potatoes – a chore that I despise. Further exploration has revealed that she also *loves* to load the dishwasher and wipe down counters. Free and cheerful labor – I love that!


I love love love to cook with my kids. My daughter (almost 10) is dexterous enough to chop veggies with a real knife, and she’s great company in the kitchen. My son really prefers baking, which is good because he’s a bit clumsy (no knife for him just yet).
I have a bunch of kids’ cookbooks, but we mostly do without and improvise.


Even with all of these wonderful finds I doubt I could let go. I want that apron in adult size however!

Rocky ~ HeadMutha

I’m right there with you. I am on edge when we are baking. The idea of flour all over the counter gives me hives. I have six little people fighting daily to see who is going to help mommy in the kitchen. I can handle one at a time. But when I have 3 – 4 trying to stir the exact same bowl of batter? UGH! I look forward to grandma coming and letting them help her out and make the mess. I leave the house and everybody is happy!


Thanks Melissa-love, love, love these things. My (almost 4 year old) loves to help me in the kitchen, also. We checked out a couple of Mollie Katzen books from the library and made the recipes together, thinking this would help broaden his horizons, culinarily speaking. He was a good sport and tried what we made, but the broccoli quiche won’t be requested by him any time soon. I’m also proud to say that he (my car, truck & baseball loving kid) requested a play kitchen for his birthday this year, and his wish is my command (most of the time).… Read more »


Thanks for all the information and links,this is a great way to spend quality time with your kids, gives them the opportunity to learn about healthy food habits and gives you quality time to interact with your kids.