You would think that my older kids would be better helpers in the kitchen than my youngest. While there are certain times and tasks where an older cook is amazing in the kitchen, here’s a fact:
My 5-year-old can’t be beat.
Are There Kitchen Chores for a 5-Year-Old?
5-year-olds should not be around sharp knives, hot stoves, or hot ovens. At first glance, it looks like they cannot be very helpful in the kitchen.
However, young kids are far more capable than we think.
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Young children can help rip lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces or shred carrots. They can spread peanut butter on a slice of bread or slice a piece of cantaloupe with a butter knife.
Jet, my 5-year-old son, enjoys pouring his own yogurt and topping it with frozen blueberries and chia seeds in the morning. He gets his own bananas and peanut butter, and he uses the apple corer (with supervision) so he can have apples dipped in peanut butter.
My 5-year-old also brings two very important gifts to the kitchen: enthusiasm and excitement.
While my older kids are capable in the kitchen and enjoy making some of their favorite foods, no one can match Jet’s enthusiasm. He is the first to volunteer when I ask who wants to help me make dinner. He is the most enthusiastic batter-stirrer in the house, and he is the only kid who gets upset when we run out of dinner jobs and he can’t help tonight.
When is the Best Time to Teach Kids to Cook?
In our house, we start kids playing and learning in the kitchen as young as possible. This does not mean I give my kids a sharp knife at age three. Instead, I want to make the kitchen a positive place for them from the time they are babies.
My toddlers stand on a chair next to me while I cook. Babies sit on the floor and play with toys while I cook. My pre-schoolers stir the batter and play with peas on the counter.
If that sounds stressful, I feel ya. I don’t do this all the time. In fact, I am the kind of person who is happiest in the kitchen when I am by myself with my favorite music playing.
Sometimes cooking is my alone time. But when I am in the right mood, we make it a fun place for the whole family.
We don’t need to force our kids to cook. We can invite them. Believe in them. Empower them.
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Age-Appropriate Chores in the Kitchen for Young Kids
In our house, we try to make food prep and cooking a natural part of life, like brushing teeth and tidying toys. I do not expect my kids to get those tasks right all the time. Likewise, I do not expect them to get kitchen chores right all the time.
No one cooks perfectly at first, but the idea here is to empower our kids in the kitchen so that when they grow up and are responsible for feeding themselves, they can do it easily.
Like I said, many kids are far more capable in the kitchen than we think.
The key is to stay open-minded and learn what they are capable of doing.
I learned about age-appropriate kitchen chores for my kids through Katie’s kids’ cooking course. I had no idea they were capable of so much until they watched a few classes and developed a solid foundation. After those first few classes, they took off in the kitchen, and they are still growing.
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What Can My 5-Year-Old Do in the Kitchen?
After a few minutes of instruction, my 5-year-old started helping with these tasks:
- Peeling carrots and cucumbers
- Chopping soft fruit with a butter knife
- Shredding cheese
- Ripping lettuce for salads
- Stirring and mixing the batter
- Measuring easy, unfussy ingredients – like chocolate chips or rice
- Measuring spices
- Spreading butter or peanut butter
My 5-year-old is also really good at:
- Building us up with enthusiasm and excitement
Which he insists on calling, “test tasting.”
He’s grown better and better with practice over the last few years.
With these skills my 5-year-old can help make these things in the kitchen:
- Fruit salad
- Scrambled eggs
- Dessert hummus
- Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
- Sandwiches (here’s a homemade lunchmeat recipe!)
- and more!
Get Your Kids Helping in the Kitchen
Cooking is an important skill that kids will need as they grow. So just like we teach them how to clean their bedroom and brush their teeth, children should learn how to feed themselves good food that fuels their bodies well.
What my youngest son lacks in skill and knowledge, he makes up for in enthusiasm and excitement – which is a really great balance for the tween hormones in my older kids (moms of tweens, you with me?). God bless the 5-year-olds in the kitchen.