How to Get Your Kids Cooking

One of the best ways to get children interested in a variety of foods is to involve them in cooking from a very early age. Toddlers enjoy helping in the kitchen, and love to see the results of their efforts, say hounds. Including them in the process demystifies food, says mamachef, who notes that "kids are so much more willing to eat what they help fix."

A sturdy step stool allows small children to safely reach counters and stoves so they can watch the cooking process. Measure ingredients, then let kids help assemble recipes by adding the ingredients and stirring the bowl or pot. Young hands can help prep fruits and vegetables. "Washing, spinning and tearing up lettuces for salad is a favorite activity" of lseavey's granddaughter, and if they've got the motor skills, toddlers can cut soft produce with a blunt knife. sunshine842 recommends a plastic lettuce knife for safe cutting.

FattyDumplin says making breakfast burritos was a hit with her toddler "because it incorporates so many different activities": cutting sausage into pieces with a butter knife, breaking and whisking eggs, and wrapping the components up in tortillas.

Youngsters enjoy hands-on activities such as rolling, cutting out, and decorating cookies, forming meatballs, and kneading bread dough. Many hounds recommend making personal pizzas with kids: They can form the dough into rounds, spread sauce on, and choose their own toppings. "I make pizza with my toddler and his cousin all the time," says ambra. "They knead, add the toppings, I bake, they eat. I've never seen them prouder than when their pizza is served to them."

Discuss: "Cooking" with a toddler?