Whether you’re cooped up at home with kids or at a loss for screen-free activities to entertain little ones on the weekends, food prep can engage everyone in your household—and make a meal or snack more memorable. The key is choosing the right recipes and delegating fun, focused tasks to each family member.
With a little supervision, even little ones can pitch in. While you’re the best judge of your kids’ capabilities, use this list as a jumping-off point for getting children involved:
The best food prep tasks for chefs of all ages
With supervision, kids ages 2 to 5 can:
- Gather ingredients.
- Rinse fruit and vegetables.
- Shake dressings and stir sauces.
- Fold napkins.
- Place silverware.
Slightly older kids ages 5 to 10 can do any of the above, plus:
- Peel vegetables.
- Help chop ingredients.
- Measure and mix ingredients.
- Use a grater.
- Help stir and saute.
- Set out dishes and glasses.
- Kids ages 10 and up can do any of the above, plus:
- Anything an adult can do (with supervision as needed).
- Load the dishwasher.
Choosing the right recipes
When inviting pint-sized sous-chefs to tie on their aprons and step up to the kitchen counter, familiar menu items are often met with the most enthusiasm. But that doesn't mean it's your job to pick family favorites. “My children love when we have themed dinners and they are in charge of creating the menu,” says registered dietitian and WW recipe editor Leslie Fink, MS. Some of their most beloved choices include family pizza night, DIY Greek grain bowls, and Mexican tacos complete with homemade guacamole and creamy black beans.
In case you're catering to picky palates, “look for recipes that encourage personalization such as make-your-own fajitas,” Fink says. “This way everyone can adjust the toppings and fillings to their own taste.”
Lest every night become taco night, mix it up with these ideas for meals and snacks your kids can take part in preparing:
Elizabeth Narins is the editorial director of digital and social content at WW and a Brooklyn, NY-based writer whose work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Prevention, Marie Claire, Elle, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Delish, and more.