My daughter, age 6, loves to watch me in the kitchen, but I have a hard time finding jobs she can do. How can I get her involved with making dinner without putting her at risk?Having your daughter help in meal preparation is a great way to spend quality time together while teaching her healthy eating habits, reading skills and even some basic math. Remember, when cooking with your children, it’s not always going to be perfect, but the life lessons and quality time they will learn will be well worth the over-topped pizza or under-mixed muffins.
First things first: Prepare your daughter to be a master chef by giving her a kitchen apron or clean art smock to keep her clothes clean. Don’t forget to discuss the importance of hand washing before and during food prep. It’s also important to have a work area for her that she can comfortably reach. This could be at the kitchen table or counter standing on a sturdy step stool, safely away from the stove and hot pots and pans.
There are many age-appropriate tasks she can help with. For instance, gathering ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator, measuring ingredients (as long as they’re not hot), chopping softer foods with a butter knife, selecting different herbs and spices to season vegetables or sauce, washing fruits and vegetables, tearing apart lettuce for salad or tacos, and of course, setting the table. As your daughter gets more comfortable in the kitchen, there are several good kids’ cookbooks available, all with age-appropriate instructions. Let her plan and help make dinner once a week while you watch your budding chef emerge.
Nicole Mydy is a food science expert specializing in product development.