By Emily

Cooking with your kids is a great way to spend extra time together around the holidays. It’s also a natural way to encourage them to try new foods and expand their palates. The trick is to find tasks that are not only safe* but also actually achievable and helpful. Here is a short list of kitchen tasks that my kids enjoy that actually lighten my workload rather than just create more mess. I’m sure I am missing some good ones here. Please chime in with what your kids like to help do and we can add to the list.

  • Vegetable Crudité Plate or Fresh Fruit Plate Prep:
    • Wash produce
    • Pick cherry tomatoes or grapes off of the vines
    • Cut softer fruits or vegetables like cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, melons, pineapple, persimmons, or pears. Some pre-prep may be required on your part.
    • Arrange the fruit or vegetables on a plate
    • Spoon dips or dressings into ramekins
  • Salad Prep:
    • Wash and spin lettuce using a salad spinner
    • Tear lettuce into pieces
    • Cut softer vegetables or fruits for toppings (see examples above)
    • Mix vinaigrette
  • Other Vegetable Prep:
    • Snap the ends off of green beans
    • Shell beans or peas
    • Peel the outer leaves off of Brussel sprouts
    • Strip kale off of the ribs
    • Snap florets off of stalks for broccoli or cauliflower (cut the stalk off near the florets to give them a head start)
    • Snap the tough ends off of asparagus spears
    • Baste veggies with oil using a brush to prep for roasting
  • Prep for Seasonings and Other Ingredients for Sides or Main Dishes:
    • Peel garlic
    • Smash garlic, ginger, or spices with a mortar and pestle
    • Chop onion, nuts, or other ingredients using a pull chopper tool
    • Weigh or measure dry goods like rice, lentils, pasta, or bread cubes
    • Pick leaves off of the stems for fresh herbs: rosemary, basil, thyme, basil, cilantro, parsley, etc
    • Sprinkle herbs or spices over dishes
    • Crack and beat eggs (may need extra supervision)
    • Shell cracked nuts like walnuts or chestnuts
    • Mix and roll dough for fresh pizza or pasta

* Safety note: since my kids are only 2 and 5, I only allow them to use steak knives with rounded tips.  They also use a chopper with a pull string that has a sharp blade, but only with my supervision. Older kids can safely use sharper knives if taught to hold them properly, and can also use other tools, like a mezzaluna, for chopping. Dull knives can actually be more dangerous than sharp ones, and frustrating as well, so be sure to find something that actually cuts.

6 thoughts on “Task Ideas for Petite Chefs (ages 2+) for Holiday Meals

  1. How wonderful that you have given so many prep options! Bet they munch as they prep! Most likely their prep will contribute to healthy food choices now and in the future.


  2. All good ideas. Perhaps dedicating a specific area of the kitchen with appropriate child sized prep surfaces, chairs, etc would add to uniqueness and enjoyment of the child.


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