Kids and Cooking

Kids and cookingParenting is a big job.  Along with everything else in life, we’re supposed to teach our kids how to be responsible and have good life skills.  That’s no easy task.  One program that we’ve tried and had success with is having our kids cook dinner.  Each child gets to cook a dinner once a week, start to finish, and clean up.  Every week.   It is generally a set night, but can fluctuate, depending on homework, music, and sports.  The important thing is the consistency.

Getting kids to prepare meals and clean-up after themselves doesn’t happen overnight.  This started years ago with my kids “helping” me in the kitchen.  (Picture air-quotes being used there around the helping.)  While I cooked, my assistants would help chop, measure, stir, taste or pour.  After those skills were mastered, around age 8, you got to make Saturday lunch.  Simple lunches are best to start with here.  By the sixth grade, or age 11, you’re promoted and assigned a regular evening to cook.

I usually do the meal planning.  If my kids want to make something special, they need to give me advance notice.  They also get to go to the grocery store with me.  This works out well and about half the time, the kids just make whatever I have scheduled.  My kids seem more interested in preparing the meal when it is something they want to eat.  Sometimes, I do have to help when a new recipe is being tried or the big chef’s knife comes out.  After dinner, we all help clear the table and the child who cooked cleans up.  Again, sometimes help is needed.  Lowering of expectations is helpful.

The bottom line here is I want my kids to be prepared to go out into the world with skills to clothe, feed, and care for themselves.  Cooking and cleaning are important skills that kids need to learn and if I can enjoy a glass of wine and a good book while that is being done, all the better.

Want to see what my two chefs have served for dinner during the past year?  Take a peek at some of their yummy dishes…it’ll make you hungry!

Cooking with kids
Strata with veggies

Cooking with kids
Egg in a basket

Cooking with kids
Chicken, brown rice, greens

Cooking with kids
Homemade mac & cheese with tomato slices

Cooking with kids
Salmon, potatoes & greens

Cooking with kids
Chicken "sandwich" & salad

Cooking with kids
Breakfast burrito

Cooking and kids
Whole grains and veggies

Cooking with kids
BLTs with avocado (homegrown tomatoes)

Cooking with kids
BLTs with avocado

Cooking with kids
Pork, roasted red peppers & pasta

Cooking with kids
Chicken, pasta & roasted cauliflower

Cooking with kids
Grilled cheese & pesto sandwiches

Cooking with kids
French onion soup

Cooking with kids
Pizza (homemade dough!) with spinach, mushroom & red sauce

Do your kids cook at your house?  Is it more work for you?

Related Links:
Three time tested family rules
Teenager times
Technology free Sundays


Sara, creator of Go Gingham, is passionate about cooking and feeding her family healthy, real food. She's a green enthusiast, too, who loves to grow food organically. Sara loves to travel - especially by trading houses. An avid runner, she can also be found chasing after her chickens in the backyard.


  1. Love it! Wait, they never cooked this well when I babysat???

    1. So sorry about that! Rain check?

  2. Is this for real?? My kid won’t even eat that stuff? Can I send my kid over to Camp Sara for a little training?

    1. Sadly my kid probably wouldn’t eat most of those delicious looking and sounding meals either. But, I want to try them! Do you have the recipes posted somewhere?

      1. Betsy, thanks for your comment. I’m working on adding my recipes to my blog. I have to write them down while I’m cooking, though, which doesn’t always happen…

    2. Sure! Send him over…

  3. I absolutely agree, my kids do this too.

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