Cooking together = family fun time

Karly JohnsonBy Karly Johnson
Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program Coordinator
Oneida and Langlade Counties




Cooking together creates a special parenting chance to create closer bonds and lifelong memories. It’s a chance to talk and hear what your child has to share about their interests, friends, and worries. Also, by letting your child help prepare a meal or snack they are being encouraged to eat healthier and try new foods. A child is more likely to try new foods if they are part of the preparation process.

Kitchen tasks give youth a chance to measure, count, and see the food they are preparing change, teaching them early math and science skills. Your child can learn new words and symbols by cooking with you. Talk about the food and what you are doing. Read food labels together and discuss what food groups items belong in using MyPlate. Not only does cooking with your child increase their knowledge but it will also help his/her small muscle skills develop by using their hands to help with kitchen tasks.
Cooking builds self esteem: Helping in the kitchen builds confidence and skills of independence. Most kids feel proud and important when they help prepare food. By sharing family tasks with your child they can have a sense of purpose within the family.

Things to Think About:

  • If your child makes a mess, it’s ok! Young children don’t have the same muscle coordination and skill that adults do.
  • Yes, sometimes meals take longer to prepare, but it’s worth letting your child help. If you are swamped for time during the week let your child help prepare meals on the weekend.
  • Kitchen time is learning time that you share together.
  • Start slowly, with stirring, pouring, shaking and tearing, then let your child spread, mix and knead. After that let them cut, grate and measure.


Don’t forget these 4 Food Safety Rules:

  1. Be clean.
  2. Keep raw and cooked food separate.
  3. Cook food to proper temperature.
  4. Refrigerate perishable food right away.


Kitchen Safety Rules for Families:

  • Fasten hair back if its long
  • Wear clean clothes (short sleeves are best)
  • Start with washing hands and the work surface.
  • Taste with a clean spoon (and the licked spoon goes in the sink, not back in the bowl!)
  • Don’t nibble cookie dough or cake batter (it contains raw eggs)
  • An adult should help with hot surfaces and sharp objects.
  • Work at a table or child-height surface.
  • Walk slowly and carry food and utensils with care.
  • Wipe up spills right away.


Peanut Butter Balls

Makes 42 one inch balls
43 calories and 2 grams of fat per ball
Try making this starter recipe with your child or grandchild.
Be sure to discuss the different food groups and their benefits.


1 cup nonfat dry milk

Dairy: Calcium in dairy helps bones and teeth grow strong and healthy.

½ cup peanut butter (or any other nut butter)

Protein: Builds strong muscles

½ cup honey

1 cup uncooked oatmeal

Grain: Eating whole grains keeps your heart healthy and provides energy.


Help child measure ingredients and let them pour all ingredients into the same bowl.

Take turns mixing all ingredients until combined.

Split mixture in half; give half of mixture to child. Each of you should knead mixture until well blended. (Depending on age of child you may need to switch halves and finish kneading for them)

Demonstrate to child how to roll mixture into a ball using your hands. Balls should be approximately 1 inch in diameter. Work together roll peanut butter mixture into balls.

Refrigerate when done.


Sharing is Caring - Click Below to Share