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Cooking With Kids Throughout the Holidays

Holidays are the perfect time to teach your children about cooking homemade dishes for family gatherings.

Holidays are the perfect time to teach your children about cooking homemade dishes for family gatherings. Kids not only will be able to try the new foods they prepare, but they also will receive a big boost to their confidence when they see family and friends enjoying their creations. Most importantly, cooking with your children will promote future health.

Follow the tips below to teach them about nutrition and how to prepare healthful meals this holiday season:

Safety Precautions

  • Set a few ground rules before getting started in the kitchen.
  • Teach kids to wash their hands with warm, soapy water while singing two choruses of "Happy Birthday" to wash away germs.

Start With Basics

  • Get them started on basics such as cracking an egg or gathering the ingredients for a favorite holiday recipe.
  • Convey to your children the importance of measuring the correct amount of each ingredient and the different types of utensils you need to use.

We’re Cooking Now

  • To keep your children enthusiastic about cooking, assign them tasks for a holiday recipe based on their abilities.

Here are some ideas depending on your child's age and ability:

  • 3- to 5-year-olds:
    • Mix together simple ingredients, snap green beans, tear lettuce for a salad, press cookie cutters
  • 6- to 7-year-olds:
    • Shuck corn, use a vegetable peeler, crack eggs, measure ingredients
  • 8- to 9-year-olds:
    • Use a can opener, juice citrus fruits, check the temperature of foods with a thermometer, pound chicken on a cutting board
  • Children 10 and older:
    • Slice or chop vegetables, boil potatoes, microwave foods, bake foods in the oven, simmer ingredients on the stove

Start with simple techniques, such as rolling dough, using a cookie cutter or spreading frosting. Give your children time to work their way from pouring liquids into batter to baking them in the oven. For conversation starters, explain different methods for cooking and their purpose, such as baking versus broiling, and how you would cook different dishes.

Learn more about the value of family meals and preparing food with your family. Sign up for the free “The Family Table” e-newsletter from NDSU Extension at

By: Brittany Twiss, R.D., L.R.D., Program Assistant

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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