How to teach your kids to cook (with a cooking course printable)

smaller Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

When I graduated from high school in 1994, I had a 4.0 GPA, was a member of the National Honor Society, and shortly afterwards received a complete scholarship to a local university.

I had never made a full meal for myself or anyone else.

I hope to give my children a more holistic education, one that’s relevant both in the classroom and in real life.

That’s why a few years ago I invited my kids to begin a formal baking class as part of their homeschool.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.44.08 AM

I wrote about our experience on the blog, and it became one of the most popular posts at that time. The following year I also documented Jonathan’s graduation from his baking class, and how the entire experience had been a positive one.

Since that time, my daughter Trishna also graduated from her baking class. Some of her closest friends came to celebrate her hard work and sample all the goodies she had learned to make:

IMG_6163 A bit of the tasty spread (all made on her own) we enjoyed at Trishna’s baking party

Baking is a perfect first step of independence in the kitchen–after all, what kid can resist the idea of creating their own treats?

It’s also natural to continue from there to cooking full meals. And that’s why after my kiddos finished their baking class, they received an invitation to begin cooking in the kitchen with mama.

Helping or Cooking?

IMG_1114 For the first time we grew our own pumpkins this year, then processed them with the help of a favorite cookbook!

My kids have grown up spending time in the kitchen, watching (& later helping) while the work happens. Hanging out, chatting, chopping, stirring, sautéing.

But the difference between kids “helping” in the kitchen and these formal cooking lessons is the goal–it isn’t just to get dinner on the table. My goal is to transfer these skills to them so they make them their own (plus we get dinner on the table, too!).

How I structure our cooking lessons

When a child in our family has completed their baking lessons, I invite them to learn to cook.

If they show interest, I print off a new document to insert in their adult skills binder (take a peek at their binders in the baking post).

IMG_7913 Elijah and I are still enjoying our baking sessions together.

Here’s an overview of that document:

(Note: I’ve adapted these ideas for our family from concepts found here.)

Course Description: Learn how to cook ten different dinners. Become such a great chef that you can do it without any help!

How: Learn how to prepare all of the items on the list below. Make each recipe once with Mom teaching you, once with Mom there to help as needed, and once all by yourself. Have Mom date and initial your sheet when you have completed each lesson.

IMG_1141

When: You may cook once each week – Mom will arrange the schedule with you.

What: Learn to cook the following ten items. Mom has chosen the first eight dinners, and after successfully learning to make them you may choose items 9 and 10.

Note: I chose common meals that we make often, including basic pasta and sauce (a simple first meal), curry and rice, pesto pasta, lasagna, mexican lasagna, chili, pizza from scratch, and black bean burritos.

Both Trishna (12) and Jonathan (11) have been working on their cooking course for more than a year now.

We don’t stress out about making the lessons fit into our schedule, so there’s been no rush to get them done. We’ve taken time off here and there as needed, so the process has stayed fun and not become a burden.

Cooking Graduation

The “final exam” of Martin Cooking 101 is to plan an entire multi-course meal for the family, go with Dad to the store to buy the needed ingredients, and prepare it on your own.

Just last week Jonathan reached this milestone, and we had a fun night celebrating!

He even designed his own menu:

IMG_1143 J used this cookie recipe as the base for his ice cream sandwiches. We enjoyed this book after dessert with a pot of herbal tea for story teatime!

The rest of the family dressed up in our Sunday best to honor his hard work and accomplishment.

Steve printed off a certificate to present to him and I gave him this book as a gift. I get chills thinking of him having this for the rest of his life, pulling it off the shelf as he cooks for wife and little ones someday!

We also gave Jonathan $25 to put in his savings account or use to further his education in some way. (He chose to use it to buy new books to study meteorology–his other current passion.)

Now that he’s a graduate, he’s considered responsible enough to prepare dinner one night each week for the family. On the nights he makes dinner, he’s excused from clean up–which makes it a win-win for him as well!

Want to design your own cooking course? (A free printable!)

IMG_9058 I made these pies last Easter & couldn’t pass up another chance to show them off! My cooking doesn’t always turn out so well, so when it does it’s something to celebrate!!

Remember, this is the way I was inspired to tackle cooking with my own kids. To me it sounded fun, not like another “should” on my already well-worn shoulders.

There are many ways to pass on life skills to our littles, so don’t feel guilty if this concept doesn’t resonate with you. But if you would like to try creating a cooking course for your children, I put together a document (based on our own cooking curriculum) you can start from!

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.15.32 AM

It contains our basic template to get your ideas flowing, and I left it as a Word doc so you can easily edit and make it your own!

Enjoy and have fun in the kitchen.

Do your kids enjoy being in the kitchen? Do you think this sounds like something they would have fun with?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.

Comments

  1. Jamie, I love this idea but how old were your kids when they started cooking and baking?

    • Good question, Teresa! I invite the kids to bake when they are about age eight, give or take, depending on their readiness. Then the cooking would follow from there whenever they were finished with the baking course. Hope that helps!

  2. this is so awesome, thank you!
    Sarah M’s latest post: What I Read in September

  3. Thank you so much for this! I’m inspired to start with my boys. I could have written your first three paragraphs as a description of my own life too – including the date 🙂

  4. While not a homeschool family I have taught both my boys age 11 and 13 how to cook. It has come in handy when both mom and dad are sick. Cooking and baking are skills that all parents should teach their children.

  5. Haha I could have written the intro of your post also! Except a couple years younger. 😉 I LOVE what you’re doing here. Eager to start with my own kids … soon. Thank you Jamie!
    Kari Patterson’s latest post: How to help others hunger…

  6. I’m expanding this a little further for an entire Kitchen Course – we’ll start with kitchen skills like properly using knives, measuring evenly, stirring without flicking your ingredients all over the counter, etc. Also, a vocabulary list of what all these terms mean in the first place (like blanch, julienne, dice, etc.) so you know what to do when you come across them in a recipe. Then go to the baking and cooking dinner. I suppose a lot of these could be incorporated into the baking/cooking sections, but with my kids, I think they need to be learned before turning them loose on trying to make something alone.
    treen’s latest post: Mystic Aquarium (for the 3rd time)

  7. I just want to comment to say that you inspired me to do Baking Class with my oldest daughter last year. She is an excellent baker now ( at 10) and I am looking forward to doing official cooking class with her possibly next year.

    Thanks so much for the inspriation .

  8. This is so awesome, Jamie. I had already planned to incorporate another set of life skills into our homeschool routine this year, but didn’t have a plan of action. Now I do. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Becky’s latest post: Need Some Encouragement in Your Homemaking? How about a $100+ Giveaway?

  9. Brandy Carlson says:

    Great idea and wonderful blog! I am new to homeschooling, but have been cooking with my kids since they were little. The idea that they can have recipes they have mastered will just help them grow their confidence in the kitchen. This is definitely something I will be implementing with my kiddos. I am also intrigued by your mention of “adult skills binder.” What a GREAT idea! Can you expound on this more or do you have a list of what you have in your folder? One of the many benefits of homeschooling is having the opportunity and time to develop these vital skills with our kids. I would love to have a way to keep track of my kids development in this area of their lives. Thanks for your encouragement and inspiration!

  10. I’m definitely filing this idea away for when my boys are older. I graduated college with very little knowledge of how to cook and it has taken quite some time before I felt comfortable in the kitchen. Like you, I’d like to give my kiddos more kitchen skills than how to press start on the microwave!
    Kelly’s latest post: This Guy is Awesome

  11. Jamie I LOVE this so much. You inspired me years ago with your baking course, and I’m counting the days til Tristan turns 8 and I can send him that formal letter in the mail. I think that for those of us who aren’t homeschoolers, the ideas that you have shared about taking the time to train and really teach all of these life skills is really super valuable. We made a binder of how to keep house. And he is making it a how to book: how to vacuum, how to do laundry etc…and as we practice these skills he is making it a binder. And then we will have our baking binder! And eventually this great idea of a cooking binder. I feel like this is what has been so eye opening in my scratching the surface of what thomas jefferson education is about…I admit I haven’t finished the books yet but! What I gather is that it is the best time to teach and train them in these life skills while they are young, and the pressures of school work aren’t as great…and while they are malleable and humble and receptive to direction…to teach them how to do these things now rather than waiting til they are teenagers…I also think its kinder because I kind of feel we just expect teens to KNOW how to do adult things and then we get frustrated when they are messy or slobs or incapable. But if you dont put the time in as a parent, then I feel like you shouldn’t complain or criticize if they dont know basic skills! Anyway. thanks for the continued inspiration Jamie!!!!! Come back to NYC for a day trip will ya?? 🙂

    • I love the idea behind Tristan’s book, Tricia. And yes, it does make sense to teach these skills at this time of life so that our teens/young adults can move on to the other things they’ll need to prepare for life! And yes to the day trip!! 😉

  12. Hey Jamie! I rarely leave comments and am always trying to simplify life, but I have to let you know your blog is my favorite and always leaves me inspired. Thank you for using your talents for God’s glory! Many blessings to you and your family!

  13. Thank you, thank you! I have been collecting some ideas for our own home cooking school but it didn’t have any organization to it – this will be so helpful! My boys are 5 and 7 so for now we’re doing fun things like making ice cream, butter, tortillas, etc. I can’t wait to expand and get them really cooking!

  14. I love this! My kids cook with me a lot and I am spending the month writing about kids in the kitchen on my blog. I love reading about older children learning to cook and bake completely on their own. It’s so inspiring!
    Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life’s latest post: Celebrating the Unexpected

  15. Thankyou so much writing this and posting. Being the baby of the family and growing up with my moms undiagnosed mental illness, I was never allowed in the kitchen. 25 yrs later with our second set of children later in life, I continue to struggle with my childhood pressures. Allowing them in that space with so many things that cause messes and are dangerous pulls so much energy from me. I am hoping your outline with help me walk through this step by step. Having a friend alongside always helped me in the past watching them allowing their kids into that danger zone brought a peace. We have moved into a new community and state far far away from support so our first year here the kitchen has seen very little of our 6 m 11 yr old. Here’s to trying to do it with more peace with these two than I did with the first two kiddios.
    Thankyou again.

  16. Hi Jamie,

    I have loved this idea of yours for a while now – trying to gather the energy to do it – I’m about to have our 4th baby. One question – when your kids did the “make it by myself” part, how much (if any) supervision did they receive with the oven/stove etc? My oldest is 8 and I am fairly comfortable with her stirring things on the stove without me beside her, but I’m not sure about her pulling things in/out of the oven. Did you have an age in your head as to when they were ready for this, or did you go by each child’s ability?

    Thanks – I love your blog – the posts have spoken to where I’m at on so many occasions!

    • I started my kids at age eight (or later), so I would take that on a case-by-case basis based on each child’s maturity level, Rita. Of course if they’ve made the whole recipe and just need help putting something in or out of the oven, I’d certainly think you could give that kind of help! Whatever you feel comfortable with.

  17. So many great ideas! Thanks!

  18. Perfect! Thank you so much for this. My 8yo daughter really wants her own “kitchen that works” for Christmas. She’s a bit big for a play kitchen and she really wants one that works! Well – that would be the house kitchen. So we’re going to get her some kid-friendly baking, etc. tools for Christmas. The promise of help with your baking and cooking courses will make a perfect companion to that.
    HeatherAnne @ Foofy * Not Foofy’s latest post: A Day of FLASH Giveaways! LEGACY OF THE DOG by Jill Beck

  19. I just love love love this as a curriculum option. Growing up in a home where home cooking was very limited, it left me feeling very domestically lacking. I don’t want that for my kids. Incorporating this into our lesson plans can be such an important long term life lesson. Thank you so much for this post!

  20. I love this. My daughter just started homeschooling (at 6) and we are using Little House (with the cookbook you mention, which we adore), cooking/baking, art, and nature as our foundation. Such a fun, hands-on way to learn not only life skills but many other academic skills too!
    Cait @ My Little Poppies’s latest post: A Homeschool Day in the Life 2015: A Look Back

  21. Any chance you know of something like this similar for sewing? We have started our cooking school based on your chart, we are loving it!

  22. Thanks for your sharing. How to teach kids to cook is a good way to help our kids develop the ability of life. I have never allowed my kids to go to the kitchen. I am afraid of knifes hurting them. But now with your sharing above I will let them cook by them-self. This is a new method to teach my kids about the real life.

  23. We’ve been teaching some over the past couple of years since you first posted. I’m putting together our homeschool plans for this year and will be including the more formalized version of your baking, looking forward to entire meal planning! Thank you for your gentle, continued support of your homeschool — and passing on what works for you for us to implement into our homeschools 🙂
    Kelly’s latest post: Sunflowers {FFfAW – 68th Challenge}

  24. I LOVE this idea! I am excited to try something similar with my kids. Just this morning we did a short lesson on using knives in the kitchen and my kids loved it. Afterward, I was trying to decide how I could be more intentional about baking and cooking lessons. Thanks for figuring it all out for me!
    sarah’s latest post: How kids learn to be a friend

  25. This is a great idea! My 10 and 12 year olds already do know how to make simple things like scrambled eggs and pancakes, and they really enjoy helping me cook, so this might be a great idea for them! I also wanted to let you know that I was really excited the other day when I checked the new books list at the library. I told you a few months ago that I had recommended Give Your Child the World to the librarian. Well, they ordered not one, but two- one for non-fiction and one for the parent’s collection!
    Shelly’s latest post: 7 Awesome YouTube Channels Your Kids Will Absolutely Love

  26. I remember your post, I used it to plan out a cooking class for my own kids and now you have made it so much easier! Love this thanks for sharing 🙂 Awesome ideas and this is so important for our children to learn to feed themselves!
    Jen|Practical by default’s latest post: Backyard Science for All Ages- Made Easy!

  27. I absolutely love this idea! I’ll be putting this into my planning binder for when my kids are old enough to do this. 🙂

Share Your Thoughts

*

CommentLuv badge