Insider’s Viewpoint: Getting Kids in the Kitchen

It’s September! Fruits & Veggies–More Matters Month is an initiative to help you focus your attention on eating MORE fruits and vegetables! More than 90% of both adults and children do not eat the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate nutrition guide.

Children love to be involved in activities with adults, so why not let them join in preparing family meals? Learning to cook is a valuable experience that can introduce nutrition and healthy eating habits early on (it can also help to create memories with loved ones). Here’s how kids can help …

3 Ways Kids Can Help with Food Shopping
Did you know that kids influence up to 80% of family food spending? Kids of any age can be involved in the shopping experience. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, some examples of kid-friendly activities in the aisle include …

  1. Create a grocery list together.
  2. Encourage children to pick fruits and vegetables they enjoy. Talk about colors, shapes and textures to enhance the learning experience.
  3. Remember that all forms of fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice) count toward your daily intake! Read food labels together. This helps kids understand nutrition concepts, and also allows them to practice reading skills.

3 Reasons to Let Kids Help in the Kitchen

  1. Kids are more likely to try new foods if they help prepare it.
  2. Assisting in the kitchen may help build their self-esteem, as well as give them a sense of pride when they see others enjoying what they have helped create.
  3. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to spend quality time with family that is often rare in our fast-paced culture.

Age-Appropriate Kitchen Activities
Around the age of 3 years old, children are ready to assist in the kitchen.

Age 3
At this age, simple motions such as tearing lettuce or washing fruits and vegetables can help ease recipe preparation for the adult.

Age 4
More hands-on activities may be acceptable at this age, including opening packages, mashing potatoes with a fork, or snipping herbs with dull scissors.

Ages 5-6
Learning to cut soft foods with a blunt knife can now be introduced. Setting the table and measuring ingredients are also helpful skills for this age.

Ages 7-8
Need help locating an ingredient in the kitchen? Your child may now assist with this.

Ages 9-12
More advanced kitchen tools can be used, including a vegetable peeler, sharp knife and oven (with adult supervision). Shredding vegetables can also be a fun trick to try at this age.

Ages 13-17
At the start of teenage years, children are now ready to independently prepare recipes with multiple ingredients.


BLATs (Bacon-Lettuce-Avocado-Tomato Sandwiches)
Serves 4

All you need …

  • 8 slices center-cut bacon, halved
  • 1 ripe medium avocado
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp finely grated or minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 8 slices sprouted-wheat bread
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into 8 slices
  • 4 romaine leaves
  • 1 cup alfalfa sprouts

All you do …

  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Meanwhile, mash avocado in a medium bowl. Stir in basil, mayonnaise, garlic, salt and pepper. Toast bread.
  3. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the avocado mixture on 4 slices of toast. Top each with 4 pieces of bacon, 2 tomato slices, 1 lettuce leaf, ¼ cup sprouts and the remaining toast.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 342 calories, 16g fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 15mg cholesterol, 541mg sodium, 36g carbohydrate, 10g fiber, 14g protein.


This information is not intended as medical advice. Consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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