Why should kids be cooking by age 12? Short answer: Because they can and they should. Why are so many parents opting to not teach their kids to cook? I don’t get it! When did knowing how to make eatable food to sustain our bodies become viewed as a hobby not a life skill? Its crazy! We teach our kids to tie their shoes, to wipe their butts, and to even drive but we are not teaching them to cook?! Its a disservice to our children to not teach them this vital life skill.
I am that kids that didn’t like cooking. I still don’t love to cook. But I do love eating things I cook so having to cook is completely tollerable. I think not loving cooking was my first motivator for why I taught my kids to cook at young ages and I always had them by my side when I was cooking. (also to keep them busy and out of trouble) Now don’t get me wrong I like homemade food and my cooking is on point but no matter what I do I still don’t love cooking. I also always try to make cooking fun for my kids and myself but I just never developed major enthusiasm for standing over a hot stove waiting for things to boil. I tolerate cooking as a necessity to get to the eating part. I like food therefore I must have the skills to make the food that I want to consume. Just because I don’t like cooking does not mean I just should never cook. Cooking isn’t a hobby, it’s a life skill. I believe with all my heart everyone should know cooking basics whether they like it or not and we should definitely teach all humans to cook while they are young (some exceptions apply of course)
Cooking with my kids since they were toddlers has paid off big time. My boys are 12 and 13 and they actually love cooking and cook once a week for the family… without me even in the room. My 13 year old made some sort of curry Indian dish I can’t even pronounce. We eat fancy on the kids night to cook.
When I was little I would let them get some ingredients out, I would also let them pour the ingredients into the bowels and pans. I also let them stir. They loved the one on one time and were more likely to try new foods if they had helped make the dish. I loved that they were being constructive and not getting into trouble. I loved spending that time with them and watching them get so excited about cooking. I loved making something with them. I had to be patient and not in a hurry. Let there be room for error and spills. A little spill is no big deal. You are getting so much more out of making cookies with your child than you will ever know.
With access to so many fast food places, frozen dinners and restaurants cooking seems more and more like a novelty or a special talent a specific kind of person seems to have been blessed with. There is a developing attitude that some children are born with a cooking gene and others not so much. And if you don’t love cooking you can simply skip it. The truth is if you are a bad cook its just because you haven’t done it enough times. Simple and plain. People need to know how to feed themselves and to take simple ingredients and make editable food with it.
When we teach our kids to cook early they are more adventurous with eating vegetables and other healthy options. I see a huge rise in older kids and teens where they eat atrociously and don’t even know what basic vegetables are. They think cooking is done in a microwave. I love the microwave and try to get by doing as much cooking with it as possible but heating up a hot pocket is not cooking. Everyone should be able to know how to follow a simple recipe and everyone is capable of following a simple recipe. Heck there are youtube videos that will even show you how to carry out a simple recipe with step by step videos.
Our kids are perfectly capable of cooking all by themselves by age 12 or earlier, especially if you have them cooking by your side from a young age. Even if your tween has never cooked a day in their life they can still learn. It’s not really that hard. It’s just a matter of repetition. We have each one of our tween sons cook one night a week. We plan all the meals ahead of time as a family wherein the boys get to pick and plan what meal they would like to cook. Sometimes I even have them come to the grocery store with me to help me shop for the ingredients. We have been doing this for years now and when its my kids night to cook he will just get to it without being told… most of the time. Everyone over the age of 10 cooks dinner once a week even dad. I cook dinner on the days that are left over.
If we want our children to eat healthier, teach them to cook. If we want kids to be responsible teach them to cook and make them cook dinner once a week for the family. In a self centered world this is also a great tool that teaches our youth to do thing for others and be aware of others. Cooking for the family on a designated day of the week is another great way to teach you child how to serve others in a creative life-skill building way. Cooking and service go hand in hand. Your kids don’t have to like cooking to do it. Just like your kids don’t have to like cleaning their room or learning math but its necessary and the benefits last a life time.
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