Cooking with Kids
What’s a great way to teach children about the importance of dairy and healthy foods, as well as spending quality time with your kids and getting your family to eat together? It’s cooking with kids!
Start teaching your little helpers now about dairy nutrition, kitchen safety rules, cooking skills by age, dairy friendly family fun tips and recipes and you’ll establish healthy eating habits for a lifetime, while also having fun!
Get started! Print our handy Got Kids? Start Cooking! brochure.
How many dairy servings does my family need?
Milk, cheese and yogurt provide a powerful package of nine essential nutrients to help build children’s strong bones and healthy bodies. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods daily for children ages 2-3 years old and for children ages 4-8 years old, 2 to 2.5 servings. For the rest of the family, ages 9 and up, the daily recommendation stays at 3 servings.
For more nutrition information, check out our Nutrition section.
Kids’ Cooking Safety Rules
Cooking with kids is a great idea. But you have to teach them some simple rules before you get started in the kitchen.
- Adult supervision is mandatory.
- Clean countertops before and after cooking.
- Wash hands in warm soapy water before and after handling food, especially raw meat.
- Tie hair back and wear an apron.
- Teach oven, stovetop and microwave safety.
- Instruct children to direct coughs and sneezes away from food and wash hands immediately following.
- Read entire recipe thoroughly before starting.
- Gather all ingredients before starting. Chop, shred or grate ingredients and measure them into small bowls; save for later.
- Follow the recipe steps exactly. Directions are important to make sure the finished product comes out as desired.
- Make sure to clean up after cooking.
Cooking Skills by Age
Match your kids’ skill levels with various tasks for safe kitchen fun. Here are some suggestions for age-specific tasks:
- Wash fruits and vegetables
- Stir ingredients in a bowl
- Tear lettuce
- Grease pans
- Open packages
- Mash bananas with a fork
5- to 6-Year Olds
- Measure ingredients
- Set the table
- Garnish food
7- to 8-Year Olds
- Roll and shape cookies
- Beat ingredients with a whisk
- Find ingredients in a cabinet or spice rack
9- to 12-Year Olds
- Open cans
- Use a microwave oven
- Use an oven and knife (with supervision)
- Shred cheese and vegetables
Family Fun Tips
Smoothie Creation Station
Designate an area in the kitchen with a blender where kids can experiment with milk and yogurt smoothies, adding fresh or frozen fruit, cereal or other add-ins to create a calcium-packed snack.
Add low-fat or reduced-fat cheese – sliced, shredded or crumbled – onto sandwiches, salads and casseroles. String cheese, cheese cubes and individually wrapped cheese sticks are great when your family is on-the-go.
Leave It Up to Them
Provide your kids with some meal options including dairy, so they can choose what they want to eat. Ask them to help plan the meal by picking out recipes and shopping with you.
Get creative with your presentation! Use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes in cheese and bread
Dippity Do Da
For an easy after-school snack, combine creamy, plain yogurt with zesty taco seasoning or onion soup mix. Serve as a dip with chips, bread cubes, crackers or veggies.
Finger Lickin’ Good
Give kids a yogurt “palette.” With a plate and two to three “colors” of yogurt – try blueberry, strawberry and banana – kids can paint on a graham cracker canvas and eat their masterpiece.
Mix It with Milk
Kids can create their own signature milk drink. Show them how by mixing applesauce and graham cracker crumbles with milk for a flavor burst that tastes like apple pie. Or for a tropical drink, stir in gelatin and fruit.