Teaching my children to cook has been a challenge to me. I struggle having to share my kitchen and it is something I have been overcoming for years. Each year I get a little better at it. This year I decided it was time to really focus on the children’s cooking skills.

Our chore roster has one child responsible for an area of the house, morning, noon, and night, for a whole week. So I decided that the person who was on Kitchen could have the ‘night’ session off and become my cook’s helper instead. This has worked a treat.

Each term (or there abouts) I get the kids to choose a main, a dessert and a baking recipe and those recipes become the primary focus in learning to cook – at the end of the term I want them to be cooking that recipe by themselves confidently.

When we work on their new recipe it takes about three times before they take it on as their own.

  • First time they watch me cook it and they just help with getting the ingredients or anything else I need,
  • then the next time we cook it they do it with me watching and
  • then the third time they can generally do it themselves with me out of the kitchen.

There have been a few recipes where they feel they need that extra instance of me supervising. So by the end of a term (10-12 weeks) They have mastered the recipe and it goes in their own cook book.


The other aspect of being cook’s helper is being on hand to help whenever I am cooking or need something done in the kitchen. This way they learn their baking and dessert recipe as well as extras along the way.

So as the year progresses they end up being competent with a collection of recipes. I keep these on my master “Cook’s Helper List”. Each child has 5 columns:

  • Learning (I list any recipe – main, dessert, baking, salad, etc…)
  • Mastered Mains (once they’ve mastered it, the recipe is recorded in the relevant list – this helps me when I’m writing my menu plan)
  • Mastered Salads
  • Mastered Desserts
  • Mastered Baking

I use this master list when writing my menu plan. On days that we are home and I have time to teach or help them I choose from the “learning” list. On days that are flat-out busy I choose from the “Mastered” list and they do most of the dinner prep freeing my time so I can do something else at that busy time of day.

Next year

  • Josh needs to learn to use the food processor in making salads and look at baking a little more
  • Jessica is ready to work on preparing a whole meal not just a main proportion of it. E.g. She is able to cook the main, prepare the salad/s and a dessert so our focus will be on timing (getting it to the table), not so much the cooking. I’ll also start looking at menu planning with her.
  • My goal for Nomi is to increase the number of recipes she is confident with
  • Daniel really missed out a fair bit this year so next year my goal is to make sure he gets a look in as well.

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