A Single Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Kids to Love Cooking

This is a guest post.

Doing something as a family always makes it more exciting. It’s extra fun when that activity teaches your children essential life skills, like making meals. Learn why getting your child interested in cooking is so essential and several easy ways to involve them in your culinary adventures.

Why Would a Child Be Interested in Cooking?

Kids might be naturally curious about cooking because they want to be like their parents. Their developmental stages include mimicry, like copying how their parents get ready in the morning or phrases they use in everyday conversations.

Older children may become interested in cooking because they’re excited to gain more independence. Your middle and high school teens can enjoy a healthy amount of autonomy by making their preferred meals in a world without limited freedom due to their age.

Related: How to Get Your Children Cooking

Food Safety Rules to Remember

Parents don’t let their teens drive without basic safety instructions or a driver’s education course. While the kitchen doesn’t have the same dangers as operating a vehicle, there are still food safety rules every child should know before they pretend to be a chef.

Ensure your kids know to wash their hands before handling food to prevent making people sick. Review the following guidelines with them:

  • Wash your vegetables before cutting and serving them.
  • Don’t handle knives without parental permission, depending on your child’s age.
  • Cook meats to their necessary internal temperatures to prevent foodborne illnesses.
  • Keep refrigerated food in the fridge so it doesn’t spoil.
  • Check the expiration dates on ingredients before using them.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling any raw meat.

Once your children know these basic food safety rules, they’ll know to have fun and stay safe in the kitchen.

Ways to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

Share your love of cooking with your family by considering these simple ways to get them involved in your weekly routine. If they start learning essential kitchen skills early in life, they’ll be more than prepared to care for themselves when they leave home.

Related: Who to Lean On When You Don’t Have a Support System

Ask Them to Measure Ingredients

It’s best to start with a simple cooking task with young children. They may not be able to reach the stove or lift a pot of water, but they can assist with measuring ingredients.

Point out how the recipe calls for one cup of flour or a teaspoon of garlic powder. You could get your child interested in cooking by letting them scoop the necessary ingredients, level off the measuring instrument and dump it in with everything else.

Let Them Stir Everything

Even though adults might take this skill for granted, stirring things on the stove takes practice. You must know which burner setting is best for frying, boiling, or simmering. Kids might also learn what it’s like to accidentally burn something in a pan by forgetting to stir the food consistently.

Ask your kids to help you stir foods once they’re on the stove. As they do, you can point out how oil prevents stir-fry ingredients from burning or when to turn the burner temperature down for boiling pasta.

Younger children might also feel a big help after mixing cold ingredients in a bowl. Stirring pancake mix or salad veggies in chopped lettuce helps kids learn hand-eye coordination with a lower-risk activity.

Related: 5 Healthy Tasty Meals for Single Parents and Small Families

Show Them How to Chop Things

It’s always a good idea to teach your kids how to use sharp objects while you’re there to supervise them. Depending on their age, they could use a butter knife to slice a banana or a chef’s knife to dice an onion. If you show them how to hold their fingers, go slowly, and only chop food on a cutting board, they’ll turn those skills into automatic safety habits.

Demonstrate Frying Foods

Many recipes use various levels of frying. Your kids should get comfortable with it to fry eggs, make crispy chicken breasts, and even make pancakes. Show them how to shield themselves from splattering oils and what happens when they try to fry something in an ungreased pan. As your kids practice, they’ll create new recipe possibilities.

Related: Kid-Friendly Side Dishes for Your Family BBQ

Request Their Watchful Eye

Even if you think your child is old enough to handle a kitchen task, they may feel too nervous to jump in beside you. That’s an excellent opportunity to encourage them to learn through watching.

They could watch you cook burgers on the stove or fry quesadillas on low heat. When they’re ready, ask them to watch the food. You can load the dishwasher or do laundry so your child can practice this skill while you’re still nearby. It’s essential to note visual cues while you cook, so this is a good cooking activity to keep in mind for your kids.

Select Various Meal Options

Your child might not care about helping make a fancy meal like stuffed peppers, but they’ll love cooking a pizza together. Select a handful of recipes for your next family meal and ask your kids to choose what they want to cook. They’ll feel more engaged in your kitchen lessons if they’re excited to eat what they prepare.

Teach Your Kids to Love Cooking

Any parent can get their child interested in cooking by considering these tips. If you start with food safety instructions and assign jobs based on your child’s age, you’ll have endless fun in the kitchen together.


Beth is the content manager and Managing Editor at Body+Mind. She writes about parenting, fitness, mental health, and nutrition. You can find Beth on Twitter @bodymindmag.