When is it safe for kids to learn to cook frugal recipes?

I learned how to cook pretty early on in my life and I think that all children should learn how to prepare frugal recipes. After all, being able to make a meal is a life skill that they’ll always need in the future and, if you’re going to be cooking anyway – they might as well watch and (when appropriate) lend a helping hand. However, child safety in home kitchens is always priority number one and this means that kids need to learn at appropriate ages. Here’s some guidelines I came across online about when kids of different ages should begin to master specific cooking skills, plus I’m sharing some useful tips on creating a safer home kitchen too…

UNDER-2s SHOULD LEARN BY WATCHING

I know it seems really young and your toddler certainly isn’t ready to cook just yet. But when they are under the age of two, you can introduce your tot to the kitchen, without exposing them to any hazards. Set up a blanket, playpen or high chair well away from hot ovens, small appliances and pots and pans. Let your child watch you prepare meals. Give him or her safe kitchen implements to play with as you work, such as plastic measuring cups or a wooden spoon.

OVER-2s CAN GET INVOLVED

If a child is two to three years old, the first kitchen task you should teach is proper hand-washing skills. Get a safe stool for your child which makes it possible for him or her to reach the sink. Then they can help you to stir cake mixes or tip sultanas into the batter. Don’t stress about mess. Kids of this age are not very coordinated but it’s no problem is your child spills a bit of water as he or she spins lettuce, tears leafy greens into bits and washes healthy and fresh veggies.

WHAT ABOUT OLDER KIDS?

At four years of age, a child may begin to try “real” cooking, by stirring combined ingredients, mashing potatoes or using child-friendly scissors to cut through herbs. Kids aged seven to nine, who are responsible and calm, should be able to make beef patties, open cans with hand-operated can openers, ladle soup into bowls and put food onto skewers. All while being supervised and properly trained, of course!

HOW TO MAKE A KITCHEN SAFER

One tip is to make sure that the equipment in your home kitchen is truly safe. Some small appliances are recalled due to defects so you might want to ensure that everything has passed a recent electrical test. According to the Weewatch.com website, you should keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, lock up cleaning solvents that contain poisons and keep plastic bags and plastic wrap in places where children can’t access them.

Now that you know when to start teaching your child your most beloved frugal recipes, as well as how to effectively child-proof your home kitchen, you’ll be ready to embark on a culinary journey with your son or daughter. The cooking skills that you pass down to your little one will be enjoyed for a lifetime and, by focusing on frugal recipes, you’ll also help your child to gain skills that’ll save them money throughout their adult life. Let me know what simple recipes you like to cook with your kids in the comments below…

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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