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Cooking with Kids: A Recipe for Success

Cooking with Kids on kid o infoCooking is fun for kids and getting them interested early may be a great way for them to develop healthy eating habits and explore their senses–sight, smell, and taste–as they discover what it takes to make a meal or snack from “scratch.”

Besides offering delicious recipes, cookbooks are wonderful guides that teach our kids helpful tips about the ingredients, the tools, the process, and the techniques necessary for preparing whatever dish that strikes their fancy. Cookbooks also present an opportunity to teach kids at every developmental stage —toddlers may learn about colors and textures while helping with the ingredients, preschoolers learn about the different food groups, and grade-schoolers can practice their reading and math skills.

A recent New York Times article discussed the growing number of kids’ cookbooks on the market today. Why the increase?

Because parents who have a keen interest in cooking encourage their young children to spend time in the kitchen and new titles take a more sophisticated approach to children’s food.

Quick and Easy CookbookThanks to this growing interest in cooking with kids, we now have an abundance of cookbooks to choose from–from targeting specific age groups, to healthy cooking to global cuisine–many with fabulous photography or illustrations and brand ties-ins (such as cookbooks by celebrities, stores and TV Shows).

I personally love when the cookbooks–like our recent library find, C is for Cooking–give helpful suggestions for what steps in the recipe young kids can handle (measuring, stirring, cracking an egg) and what steps are best left to an adult (chopping with sharp knife).

With all the options on the bookshelves today, deciding which cookbook to use can be challenging. Here is a list of books mentioned by the New York Times–we have not tried them all yet. We tend to use our local library to sample cookbooks so I plan to reserve some of these titles with my library card and will report back on what we think of them. We sometimes purchase the books we use over and over for our collection–then we don’t feel so bad if the ingredients smear the page or the edges are worn from repeated use.

Spatulatta Cookbook by Isabella Gerasole and Olivia Gerasole
Pretend Soup And Other Real Recipes, A Cookbook for Preschoolers & Up by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson
Emeril’s There’s a Chef in My World!: Recipes That Take You Places by Emeril Lagasse and illustrated by Charles Yuen and Quentin Bacon
Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook by Paula Deen and illustrated by Susan Mitchell
Yum-o! The Family Cookbook by Rachael Ray
William-Sonoma: The Kid’s Cookbook: A Great Book for Kids Who Love to Cook! by Abigail Johnson Dodge
What’s Cooking?: A Cookbook for Kids (Ratatouille) by Disney Storybook Artists
Kitchen Playdates: Easy Ideas for Entertaining That Includes the Kids by Lauren Bank Deen
Toddler Café by Jennifer Carden and Matthew Carden (Photography)
Cook It in a Cup!: by Myall, Julia/ Lowe, Gregory Ferrell

Other Cookbooks I want to try:

The Children’s Quick and Easy Cookbook by Angela Wilkes
New Junior Cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens
Everything Kids’ Cookbook by Sandra K. Nissenberg, M.S., R.D.


Cooking accessories for your kids are also easy to come by these days. Whether you outfit your little tike head-to-toe like a chef or keep it simple with just an apron, cooking can be fun to share with your kids. My boys still use the paper cooking hats they decorated at The Mixing Table kids session last summer and wear a canvas apron we bought at Michael’s Craft Store. I ironed their names on the front of the aprons and it doubles as a cooking and an art apron.

Some Cool Cooking Accessories:

Growing Cooks — Traditional Kids Aprons, Kids Chef Hats, Cooking Party Kits
Mahar Dry Goods —Kids Kitchen set includes apron, hot pad, oven mitt, recipes cards
OOMPA toys — Adorable aprons from Lucy and Michael

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  • my kids really like the williams sonoma kids cookbook you mention in your list. joe & i like the food too–it’s pretty plan but very yummy.

  • I’m a food writer, so I cook and bake with my kids all the time. And while I don’t have kid-specific cookbooks, I do display my own cookbooks prominently on a kid-height shelf in the kitchen. I think this, more than anything, has given my kids an interest in food. They pick up the books at their leisure, flip through the pages, and talk about what would taste good. You should hear some of the conversations they have!

  • Cooking and Baking with my mother is one of my fondest childhood memories. Now, with my own children this can fill any day. Shopping for the items, measuring, reading, baking, the science of it all are just fascinating.