How to set up your kitchen to cook with your kids!

Just a few easy tweaks to your kitchen safety set-up can take any cooking project from yikes to yum!

Cooking together with kids can feel like a lot to manage—after all, stoves are hot, knives are sharp, and kids can be silly. Prepping your kitchen to safely cook with your kids will free you up to concentrate on the most important part of any cooking project: the fun! Here are just a few things you can do to easily set up your kitchen to be more kid-friendly.

Prep your space: 

Start by giving your child a step stool to make sure they’re high enough to be able to press their palms down on the counter. Big, clear surfaces are easier for your kids to work on safely, so once you’ve got your kiddo to the right height, pull out your largest cutting boards and clear as much space as possible. Making lots of room means that kids can concentrate on slicing veggies or measuring ingredients, without knocking anything over. Then, put a wet washcloth under any cutting boards or bowls you’ll be using. The washcloth will anchor boards and bowls in place, making it easier for kids to get involved (it’s also insurance that even the most energetic stirrer won’t wind up with a bowl on the floor.) When you’re done, you can use the washcloth to whisk crumbs and flour off the counters. 

Prep your materials: 

Having all of your ingredients prepped before you go (known as mise en place) is how professional cooks (and chefs on cooking shows!) get projects started. This fancy concept also works really well for cooking with kids! It’s easy to get distracted by everything going on in your kitchen, but having ingredients prepped and in front of you is a great way to make sure you don’t leave anything out. Some families like to use kid friendly knives when kids are new to the kitchen, but you can also check out our knife skills tutorial for tips for all ages on how to safely use any knife. If you want to further encourage your younger kids to be more independent in the kitchen—for example, being able to make their own snacks and clean up after themselves, consider making them a dedicated place in the kitchen to store snacks and child-sized kitchen tools. More about how to do this in our post on making kid-sized kitchen work spaces!

Prep your smile:

Pick a time to cook together when everyone’s not tired or ragingly hungry—a hearty snack before you get down to cooking can do a lot for everyone’s patience. And, if you’re all new to cooking, cook on a day when you don’t expect your kitchen to be sparkling clean. You’ll be much more zen about a little (or a lot) of flour hitting your floor if you haven’t just mopped it. Finally, have fun picking a project together and enjoy letting your kids take the lead! If you’re looking for more advice on how to set the mood as you get ready to cook, check out our posts on How To Cook With Your Kids, and How To Make Dinnertime Fun Again. We’ve also got tons of recipe ideas—check out our cooking challenges or our recipe archives to get everyone excited to cook! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more cooking inspiration. 

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