How to Include Children in the Kitchen

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Registered Dietitian & Media Spokesperson Rachel Wall shares her tips & recipes on KCRG News 9.

Crumbs and spills aside, cooking with children is a great way to spend quality time and teach important skills like measuring, counting, and following directions.

Benefits when you involve children with meals and snacks:

  • Better eaters – Children are more likely to eat foods they have helped plan and prepare.

  • Skill development – Children develop fine motor skills, self-confidence, and independence.

  • Quality time – Working with your children in the kitchen provides quality time together. You can teach them why nutritious foods are important.

  • Develop senses – Food preparation is a great way to help them use their senses—look, touch, taste, smell, and listen. Ideas for cooking with children:

  • Hand washing – Teach them to wash their hands. Provide a step stool or chair that children can stand on to reach the counter where you are working.

  • Choose age appropriate tasks – Explain clearly, in simple instructions, what you would like them to do and show them. For tips on what children can do, watch How to Include Children in the Kitchen at in-the- kitchen/

  • Menu planning – Children can help plan menus and suggest foods they like. They can check the pantry or refrigerator for foods on hand.

  • Shopping – Children can help at the grocery store by looking for certain foods, shapes, and colors. Children can help put groceries away when you get home.

Try child-friendly recipes such as Crunchy Apple Roll-up, Scrambled Egg Muffin, Fruit Pizza, and Pizza on a Potato at little-hands/

Crunchy Apple Roll-up Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium apple

  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter

  • 1 (8 inch) whole wheat tortilla

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons crispy rice cereal

Instructions: 1. Cut apple into small pieces, slice thinly, or shred with a grater. 2. Spread peanut butter in a thin layer over tortilla. 3. Spread apple pieces in an even layer over peanut butter. 4. Sprinkle with cereal. 5. Roll up tightly and cut in half.

Serves: 2 (1/2 roll-up per serving) | $0.33 per serving

Nutrition information (per serving): 150 calories, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 5g sugar, 4g protein

Recipe courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website:


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