COOKING WITH KIDS
Q:In my practice, I typically recommend parents involve their children with cooking. Could you provide some guidance on age-appropriate cooking-related tasks kids can perform?
A:Getting kids involved in the cooking process can help them understand the concept of farm to table and pick up healthful eating habits from an early age.
Choose tasks they can perform from the start to the end of a meal, including those related to planning, shopping, preparing, cooking, serving, and even cleaning up.
Listed below are suggested tasks for kids aged 2 and up. Each age group builds on the age-related tasks of the previous one.
Ages 2 to 3
• Help place fresh fruits and vegetables in plastic produce bags at the supermarket.
• Place food items in the shopping cart.
• Wash fruits and vegetables.
• Toss empty packages and containers in the garbage.
• Peel bananas and oranges with assistance.
• Stir batters with assistance.
• Place dirty dishes and silverware in the kitchen sink after a meal with assistance.
Ages 4 to 5
• Help select recipes (use recipes with photos).
• Assist with food selection at the supermarket, specifically on lower shelves.
• Place food items from the shopping cart onto checkout counter with assistance.
• Stir batters without assistance
• Measure ingredients.
• Fill pitchers and glasses with ice using a scoop.
• Get ingredients from lower cabinets.
• Shape dough for cookies.
• Place toppings on pizza or salad ingredients into a bowl.
• Scoop batter into muffin tins for baking.
• Mash ingredients such as bananas or cooked potatoes.
• Set the table with assistance from an older family member.
• Help clear off dirty dishes and smaller items on the table, such as serving utensils or small containers.
Ages 6 to 8
• Help plan meals for the week.
• Select fresh fruits and vegetables at the supermarket.
• Get ingredients for recipes in the kitchen and at the store.
• Perform tasks over the stovetop with assistance, such as mixing oatmeal or scrambling eggs.
• Prepare a simple salad, including shredding the lettuce and washing and peeling vegetables, as needed.
• Roll dough for pizza or cookies.
• Use a butter knife to spread cream cheese or peanut butter.
• Set the table without assistance.
• Help clear the table of all items.
• Load the dishwasher except for sharp objects such as knives.
Ages 8 and Up
• Plan simple meals.
• Write out a shopping list.
• Place an order at the deli and butcher counter.
• Use a pizza cutter and can opener.
• Skewer food.
• Make smoothies with supervision.
• Prepare easy no-cook recipes such as tuna salad or homemade trail mix.
• Clear the table and help rinse small dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.
• Help place leftovers in storage containers and put the containers in the refrigerator.
All Fitness ___ COOKING WITH KIDS
— Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is founder of Toby Amidor Nutrition (www.tobyamidornutrition.com), a nutrition expert for FoodNetwork.com, and a nutrition advisor for Sears FitStudio.com.