5 Tips to Make Cooking with Kids Less Stressful

5 Tips to Make Cooking with Kids Less Stressful

Let's face it—cooking with kids can sometimes feel a little intimidating, whether you're in the classroom or at home.

You might find yourself envisioning flour scattered everywhere or facing a recipe with what seems like an endless list of steps. I remember when I first started, it wasn't a walk in the park. Landon and I would often end up turning the kitchen into a disaster zone. But when I decided to incorporate cooking into my speech sessions, I knew I had to bring some order to the chaos.

That's when I came up with 5 Tips to Make Cooking with Kids Less Stressful! These tips are easy and actionable. You don't have to be constantly on the lookout every second. Instead, it's about starting off on the right foot and ensuring you're prepared for the activity.

Cooking with Kids

Cooking with kids isn't just about making an amazing recipe—it's an opportunity for learning, developing practical skills, and creating lasting memories.

And the best part? You don't have to limit this experience to just your home; it's entirely possible in the classroom as well. Whether you're with one child or a group, the benefits remain the same.

In fact, there are numerous advantages to involving children in the kitchen. To learn more about why you should be cooking with kids, check out my blog post on 5 Reasons You Should Be Cooking with Kids.

 From life skills to nutrition and self-esteem, kids can benefit immensely from cooking. Engaging them in the kitchen not only teaches them practical skills like measuring, mixing, and following instructions but also instills a deeper understanding of nutrition and healthy eating habits.

Tips to Make Cooking with Kids Less Stressful

1. Plan Ahead and Choose Age-Appropriate Tasks

Now, I know what you're thinking—what's the first step in this guide on how to make cooking with kids less stressful? It's simple: Plan Ahead and Choose Age-Appropriate Tasks.

Before diving into the kitchen chaos, take a moment to plan out the recipe and assign tasks that are suitable for the child's age and skill level.

For instance, younger children can lend a hand with easy tasks like washing vegetables or stirring ingredients, while older kids can tackle more complex duties like measuring ingredients or chopping vegetables under supervision. It's crucial to ensure that the recipe aligns with the children's capabilities; after all, you wouldn't want to overwhelm your preschoolers with tasks beyond their reach.

If you need some inspiration for easy recipes tailored to younger kids, I have monthly Visual Recipes designed specifically for children. These recipes are simple, fun, and perfect for the little ones. Plus, they include no-cook options, making them even more accessible and they include shopping lists, vocabulary cards, comprehension questions and more! Check them out here!

2. Create a Kid-Friendly Learning Environment


Creating a Kid-Friendly Cooking Environment is essential whether you're at home or in the classroom. While the basic principles remain the same, there are some differences in implementation to consider for each setting.

Safety and Accessibility: 

At Home: Ensure the cooking area is safe and accessible for children. Use step stools if necessary to help them reach countertops safely and keep sharp objects and hot surfaces out of reach or properly secured.

In the Classroom: In a classroom setting, prioritize safety by ensuring that cooking areas are properly set up and free from potential dangers. Provide step stools or sturdy platforms to help children access work surfaces comfortably and safely. Supervise closely to ensure that sharp objects and hot surfaces are handled with care.

Read my blog here for more tips on Cooking Safety Tips for Kids

Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere:

At Home: Create a welcoming atmosphere by playing music or using colorful utensils and aprons to make the experience more enjoyable for kids. Incorporating elements of sensory stimulation, such as engaging scents or textures, can also enhance the cooking experience.

In the Classroom: Enhance the cooking experience and foster a positive learning environment by incorporating elements of sensory stimulation. Use bright colors and engaging visuals to make the space inviting and appealing to children. Consider involving them in decorating aprons or creating themed decorations to personalize the cooking area and make it feel more welcoming.

3. Make it Fun & Educational  

Turn cooking into a learning experience by discussing the ingredients and their nutritional benefits or exploring different cooking techniques and cultures. Encourage creativity by allowing kids to add their own twist to the recipe or experiment with different flavors.

To discuss nutritional benefits, while preparing a fruit salad, engage children in identifying different fruits and their health benefits. For example, highlight how strawberries are rich in vitamin C for boosting the immune system, while bananas provide potassium for healthy heart function.

For exploring different cultures, while making sushi, dive into the Japanese origins of this dish and discuss the significance of rice in Japanese cuisine. 

For adding their own twist, during a sandwich-making activity, provide a selection of ingredients like sliced meats, cheeses, veggies, and spreads, and encourage kids to mix and match to create their unique sandwiches. This allows them to express their creativity while learning about flavor combinations and food pairing.

Once again, adding visual recipes is a fantastic way to make cooking fun and educational for kids. Recipes like Peeps play dough or banana pudding cups provide exciting opportunities for children to experiment with ingredients and techniques, all while gaining valuable skills in the kitchen. Click here to view more Cooking & Craft Ideas.

4. Be Patient and Positive

Cooking with kids can be messy and chaotic at times, but it's important to remain patient and positive throughout the process. Offer praise and encouragement for their efforts, even if things don't go perfectly.

For instance, commend them for their enthusiasm in mixing ingredients or for trying a new food item. Use any mistakes or mishaps as learning opportunities rather than sources of frustration. Instead of getting upset over a spilled ingredient, turn it into a lesson on cleaning up and being more careful next time.

Remember, fostering a supportive and encouraging environment in the kitchen not only makes the cooking experience more enjoyable for kids but also helps them develop confidence and a love for cooking.



5. Keep it Simple and Flexible

 Choose recipes that are simple and easy to follow, with minimal ingredients and steps. Such as these Visual Recipe Cards!  Avoid overly complicated dishes that may overwhelm both you and the child.

Be flexible and open to making adjustments as needed, whether it's substituting ingredients or modifying the recipe to suit the child's preferences or dietary restrictions.

For example, if a recipe calls for whole milk but the child is lactose intolerant, you can easily substitute it with a non-dairy alternative like almond milk or oat milk. Similarly, if a recipe includes an ingredient that the child doesn't like or is allergic to, such as nuts or tomatoes, you can omit or replace it with a suitable alternative.

Additionally, you can modify the recipe to accommodate different flavor preferences by adjusting the seasonings or adding extra ingredients to enhance the taste. By keeping the recipe simple and being flexible with substitutions and modifications, you can ensure a stress-free and enjoyable cooking experience for both you and the child.

Start Cooking with Kids

It's clear that cooking with kids goes way beyond just making something delicious—it's an experience you won't regret. Trust me on this! It's all about making learning and activities in the kitchen fun. So, take the leap, get those aprons on, and dive into the cooking! The memories you'll create and the skills you'll share will stick with you and your little ones for years to come.


Don't forget to save this post on Pinterest so you'll be all set when you're ready start cooking with your kiddos! 


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