When teaching a child to be able cook food without supervision, it can be a little tricky to decide where to begin. So much depends upon each child’s interest, motor skills, and maturity.
For us, it has been different with each child. I decided to begin building independence with my oldest when she nearing nine. It was partially out of necessity. I needed more help around the house and having someone who could make lunch on occasion has been invaluable.
As I have cooked, and taught cooking lessons, I have found it helpful to begin with foods that are multi-purpose and of course, simple. I also try to pick meals that can be cooked in various ways so my children can get used to different cooking methods.
- Scrambled eggs in a fry pan are my first go-to food to teach my children to cook. They can be served at any meal and require little effort. Besides, what child does not enjoy cracking open an egg?
- Grilled cheese (cooked on a gridle or in a frying pan) are not only simple, but a favorite of most of the children in our home.
- Salmon Patties are a simple dinner most children can cook. I mix a can of salmon with two eggs and a dash or two of “everything bagel” seasoning. Salmon patties can be fried on a gridle or fry pan.
- Taco Meat is incredibly simple if I have pre-mixed my own seasonings or use store-bought packets. All my child needs to do is cook up the meat in a frypan and add the seasonings. I can help with the sides.
- Chicken and Rice is a family favorite. I can teach my children to cook rice on the stove or instant pot and then we add cooked chicken and seasoned salt.
- Baked Potatoes are a simple side dish or meal that takes nothing but a good scrubbing, olive oil, and salt. This is a good introduction to using an oven for children.
- Hot dogs are a no brainer for anyone. They can be cooked on a gridle, fry-pan, or in the oven.
- French Toast is easily mastered by young chefs. It is basically eggs, milk, and bread and can be cooked on a gridle.
- Basic Chili is a great, and more complex dish to introduce to a child. It requires little but cooked meat, cans of beans, tomato sauce, and seasonings. A child can have fun experimenting with different beans and meats with time.
- Roast Chicken is far more simple than it sounds. Really, other than making sure the bird is cleaned out and salted, little has to be done but put it in a pan and in the oven for an hour. I do recommend a couple sturdy oven mitts to prevent any chance of burning if a child is independent enough to put the bird in a hot oven and take it out when done.