Are you teaching your children to be handy in the kitchen? Are they learning how to handle basic kitchen utensils like pots, pans, spatulas, and knives? Do you let them help you do the food shopping, preparation, and cooking? Do they participate in the kitchen clean-up process after meals, which is as important as handwashing in protecting their (and their family’s) health? With her daughter preparing to leave the nest to attend college this autumn, Katie Morford wonders, on her terrific blog, Mom’s Kitchen Handbook, if she has done enough teaching of basic cooking skills:

There are so many tasks to tackle; it can put me into a tailspin as I wonder about all the places Mr. Mom’s Kitchen and I have come up short. So instead, I’ve been retreating to the kitchen, pondering the most essential of so many life skills: cooking. There is so much more I want to pass on before she heads clear across the country for college.


Morford believes every child should know these 10 cooking skills before they leave the nest. (I’ve added some of her reasons why they are important; you can read the others here.):

  1. How to use a knife.
  2. How to wash and cut vegetables and fruit — Sounds so basic, but if you’ve never split open a red pepper or seeded a cucumber, you’d never know where to begin. If we want our kids to eat vegetables and fruits, we need to show them how.
  3. How to make a salad — Lettuce doesn’t come with operating instructions. We must teach kids to dismember, wash, and dry a head of leafy greens. Better yet, show them to make a simple dressing that will be miles better than store bought.
  4. How to cook grains.
  5. How to roast vegetables –Show kids how to roast a pan of potatoes and they can parlay that knowledge into cooking almost any vegetable at the produce stand.
  6. How to cook a piece of chicken, fish, or meat in a pan.
  7. How to make one simple pasta — Pasta is cheap, hard to screw up, and universally appealing. Teach your child one good dish as a foundation from which they can grow.
  8. How to cook eggs — Whether scrambled, fried, or soft boiled, eggs are the foundation for terrific, affordable, healthful meals. Consider, for example, that scrambled eggs embellished with greens and cheese (and perhaps leftover grains) makes for an excellent meal.
  9. How to bake something sweet.
  10. How to clean the kitchen — Falling squarely in the category of “boring but important”, getting kids to clean up after themselves will endear them to roommates and romantic interests over the long haul.


Aviva Goldfarb adds chili and burritos to the list of things every young man and woman should know how to make before leaving home and recommends the crucial kitchen gear they will need:

If your child is going to have a kitchen in his new living space, I recommend he own at least the following: One large nonstick skillet, one large heavy skillet, a large stockpot, and a rimmed baking sheet. He’ll also need a large slotted spoon, a spatula, a chef’s knife, a bread knife, a vegetable peeler, tongs and a small serrated knife. A blender is great to have for smoothies.(Hopefully he’ll use it for that and not for margaritas!)


** Does your young chef have a recipe they help prepare at home that they would like to share with The PediaBlog’s readers? Send it to and we’ll post it on our Kids’ Menu!


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