Kids in the Kitchen

A sponsored post for Healthy Active Kids


I don’t know about you, but I have found that the older my kids have gotten, the less inclined I have been to get them to help out in the kitchen. When the girls were toddlers, cooking was an activity to help kill some time. We could cook a simple cake or biscuits together and then of course eat the fruits of our labour for morning or afternoon tea. But the older they’ve gotten, and especially now in Primary School I’m finding that they are much busier with home work or after school activities, or playing outside or on a dreaded screen, so it’s quicker, easier (and less messy) for me to just whip up our evening meals or morning breakfasts.

It seems I’m not alone. Nestlé Healthy Active Kids recently surveyed more than 800 parents of primary-school-aged children across Australia, to find out whether children are helping in the kitchen, what cooking skills they have, and what they’re cooking. The results were interesting:

• 27% of kids never help with the cooking at home
• 32% help out once a week
• 28% help out once a month

IMG_3153 Report 3

What are my barriers for not getting the girls involved?

For me it has to be time. I am an efficiency machine running around like the road runner especially in the mornings and evenings juggling Maggie, getting homework done and after school activities, getting the girls involved for dinner seems like more hassle than its worth. I need to change my mindset! While the girls always set and clear the table every night, getting them involved in the cooking would not only help me, but giving them skills for life. Especially when they were younger I always found that if the kids had gotten involved in the cooking that they would be more inclined to eat what they had had a part of. If I served a salad to them they would turn their noses up at it, but if they had cut those cherry tomatoes they would be eaten! I also think that now the girls are older (and more hungry) they will eat whatever gets put in front of them so I don’t need to worry so much about it.


Report 2

My barriers:

• Time (it’s quicker for me to do it) and they could be better spending their time doing homework or getting some down time
• Easier (I know what I’m doing and what needs to happen where and when)
• Cleaner (you KNOW how I feel about mess)

How to turn this around:

• I need to start treating the cooking like another life skill (such as riding a bike, tying shoe laces, making beds) they NEED to know this stuff.
• I need to remember that them helping ME means I can focus on something else and get it done quicker in the end.
• They will start to work out what needs to go on a plate every night if it keeps being repeated. Some veggies, some protein: it all plays a part to make up a balanced meal.

Report 4

My Mum was SO good at this I learnt so much from her every night cutting veggies, making a salad, helping her prep canapés for drinks or catering jobs that she had on. The more practice I got, the better I got AT it, and I was less scared of food and prepping food and started to understand about flavour: what went together. Like anything really, practice makes perfect. Sure it helped that I loved food so much!


What cooking gets done at your place?

Given my love and passion for cooking it really isn’t good enough that my kids have such a limited repertoire in the kitchen. Harps could roll making pancakes, pikelets or scrambled eggs by herself and Daisy probably less so…maybe toast and fruit salad!

The report showed:

Report 1

And I was interested to read, “Children who cook for the family are so proud of themselves. They get positive feedback for their effort, which helps with self-esteem and encourages them to do it again.” I know my niece Mia who loves cooking regularly trots out dinner for her family of 5 without any trouble at all – planning her menus and ingredients much to the delight of her parents. It’s time for me to get my kids in the Kitchen!

How to get kids involved and eating the food you’ve made

• Get them to cut up veggies or salad (make their own bowl of salad)
• Serve dinner with lots of share platters in the centre of the table with lots of tongs (kids that can help themselves to stuff will try extra stuff) it’s a strange phenomenon but one I have found always works
• Get them to menu plan with you – if they have some control or decision making the responsibility and choice is on them

egg arrowroots-2

My plan of attack

• Make an effort to get one of the girls involved in dinner prep every night (that could be simple cutting or salad prep or turning meat cooking in a hot pan).
• Try and educate the girls about what we need to eat every night to make up a balanced meal. Teach about different food groups
• Create goals for them maybe for Harper to increase how many veggies she is eating or for Daisy to cook a meal
• Get the girls involved in menu planning with each of them choosing a night to help me prep


Developed in partnership with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), the Nestlé Healthy Active Kids program shares the common goal of helping Australian families get active and healthy – promoting nutrition, health, wellness and physical activity among primary-school-age children.

Healthy Active Kids has been working with cooking educators from Get Kids Cooking (a wonderful program created by some Aussie Mums) this year to encourage cooking in schools and at home.

To win a Get Kids Cooking pack valued at almost $200, including a 6-month home subscription to give cooking inspiration and instruction to both kids and adults, just visit the Healthy Active Kids website and pick your favourite recipe – one you would like to cook with the kids, and come back and leave a comment here letting me know which recipe. You can read the rest of the T&C’s here.

You can learn more about the Healthy Active kids program here.

How involved are your kids in the kitchen?
Got any junior masterchefs in your house?
Got some tips to share with us?


  1. Super Sarah says

    This is a timely reminder to get back into the kitchen with my girls. I’d love to have a go making the Vietnamese rice paper rolls with Amy. She doesn’t like sushi because of the nori and has asked me before if I can make rice paled rolls for her lunch box when I make sushi for Stella’s! No excuses, we can learn how to make it together!

  2. My daughter (2yrs) loves to help in the kitchen. In fact, if I try to cook alone she will have a tantrum. She has to help chop the veg (she holds the handle, I control the blade), stir the pots/pans (with repeated reminders that it is HOT) and toss the salads (the mess isn’t as bad now as it used to be!). My son (3yrs) sometimes gets involved too!
    I would make the Coconut Raisin Bliss Balls because they are something a little different from what we normally cook up. Plus they sound yummy and they would be great for their lunch boxes for preschool. The kids would love making the balls, a bit like play doh except mum will let they eat the end creations!

    • That’s great Dani – I used to be the same and then as they have gotten older I don’t know, I’ve lost it. Time to get back! Thanks for your entry.

  3. good for them to have those basic life skills beth!
    there are too many after school activities and diversions these days!
    perhaps the school would be on board too with garden growing and prepping food!
    Jamie and Stephanie Alexander do great work promoting food involvement activities and nutrition!
    good luck! … love m:)X

  4. Gosh those stats are shocking, I have to say I usually don’t let mine help as a result of them being all so young at the same time, but now they’re older I probably should let them help more. They do ask, and most of the time I let them.. but I can be prone to wanting to do it myself as quicker, naughty mumma

    • I have become SO slack on this…it wasn’t until I read this that I realised I have really dropped the ball in this area. I was so much better when they were smaller.

  5. There are some great recipes there! I didn’t even get past the first page!
    Both my kids LOVE rice paper rolls and if they could make them on their own for their lunchbox….. that would be fantastic! I suffer terribly from “lunchbox-itis” by Thursday night.

  6. I love this .. what a great way to get kids cooking.

  7. beef fajitas – they look yummy! our boys love tortillas, (note to self / find a press!) so this may be acceptable ? I need to relinquish control more often…. oh so hard

    side note – 3 November already???!?!?

  8. I always involved my kids in the cooking even though I was a full time working mum and thankfully both kids turned out excellent cooks, in fact my 41 yr old son does most of the cooking for his family.
    Now I involve my 3 grandkids in the kitchen, whether it be chores or baking, they love it. I started them off with sheets of puff pastry just cutting out shapes and decorating and baking, from there we moved up the culinary scale to simple cakes and so on. I love cooking, so want my grandchildren to experience the joys of creating edible goodies. I was never allowed in my Mum’s shoebox sized kitchen as there were 5 of us kids and we couldn’t all fit in!
    I can recall my son aged 4 making a vegemite sandwich for my husband. The vegemite was so thick, my husband had to fold the sandwich and hide it in his pocket until Master 4 was out of sight!

  9. Hey there. Thanks for this! Very timely for us – I sat down to watch the new Jamie series and to my astonishment BOTH my kids, 5 and 8 years old, sat through the whole thing with me WITHOUT whining about changing the channel. They were particularly interested in the eggy bread and my son then said he wanted fried eggs (and he hasn’t eaten eggs for about 5 years). He also then said he’d help me cook them so this is perfect. We’d probably go for the Mexican chili I reckon. : )

    • My kids loved watching The Great British Bake off too – maybe because cakes were involved! Great stuff…and good luck!

    • Hi Natasja! Congrats you are the winner of the give-away! Can you shoot me an email ([email protected]) with your full contact details so I can get them sent out to you? Thanks for your entry and happy cooking!

      • Hey thanks!! Am genuinely chuffed to win anything on a blog and this is a goodie! Will send details but just to let you know my son actually cooked himself and his sister egg feta and spinach quesadillas last week: my thwarted junior masterchef dreams are finally taking shape! Thanks again. : )

  10. I’m sorry, but for Nestle of all companies to preach to parents about kids wellbeing is appalling.
    Nestle as a company has a horrific human rights record in developing countries, where it funded doctors to recommend mothers feed their children formula in order for Nestle to make a profit. In many countries there is no clean water available to be mixed with formula leading to children under 5 contracting communicable diseases, and dying. But at least Nestle got their profit.
    For more info on Nestle’s unethical and damaging practice please see here:
    As people living in the West with the ability to make empowered choices through access to information, it’s our responsibility to stand up for mothers and children who don’t have the same options.

    • Thanks for your comment Amna, I completely understand people’s strong views on Nestle. I chose to work with Healthy Active Kids because I strongly believe in educating kids to love cooking and preparing healthy food. I think it’s a great incentive for both Nestle and the AIS to get behind.

      • Fair enough Beth, thanks for the reasonable response and also thanks for not deleting my comment.
        I also agree that the spirit of this campaign is really good- I will just be always against Nestle until they recognise and apologise for the horrors they’ve put mothers in the third world through, having seen it first hand.

  11. I need to take a leaf out of your book, Beth. I am so sporadic when it comes to cooking with the kids – sometimes I’m ok with it, other times it just feels like they are in the way. Enough!

  12. I loved cooking with my mum when I was kid – I had this easy kids cook book that I always made stuff out of. It was awesome. Love incentives like this!

  13. I can basically cook all because of my Mum. I remember shelling peas with my Poppa. My neighbours daughter just last night, helped me make dinner. Love kids in the kitchen!

  14. I am sporadic too – My boys would totally devour Buckwheat Pancakes with Berries and other fruit.
    It’s a great little site.
    I’m inspired to gte them back in the kitchen more often than emptying the dishwasher.

  15. Apricot & Oat Bliss Balls

  16. My kids are preschoolers and will always help with pumpkin scones or banana cake. They’d love it if we cooked one of these everyday, and we do cook them every week, but it’s too much if we (just the three of us) eat a whole batch of these every day! So, the new thinking for me would be to move to teaching them a main meal. To skip the problems associated with them or me being too hungry or tired to have a cooking class at dinner time, I could just move their meal making time to lunch. I’m going to look at making the Beef Fajitas with my kids.

  17. Great ideas! My 3 are so fussy it seriously does my head in! Especially since we do all those recommended things; big veggie garden with the kids involved, wide variety etc etc. I’d probably try the rice paper rolls first; anything to have change from making three Vegemite sandwiches every day…

  18. The share plate thing in the middle of the table. Tick! Also getting them to help with the menu plan. He mightn’t like all that’s on the menu but if a few of the dishes are his favourite then yes!

  19. Scott Crumlin says

    Beef Fajitas are fun to eat, tasty and healthy!

  20. Its funny, before I had my girls I couldn’t wait to do things in the kitchen with them, but then reality hits. Lack of time – guilty! Don’t want the mess – guilty! Time for a shack up of my attitude I think. I’d pick the beef fajitas because my girls love meals that they can construct themselves at the dinner table (rice paper rolls are a firm favorite and get asked for ALL THE TIME!) These would also be something they could help prep with minimal mess – winner!

  21. Lucy Robins says

    I think we would attempt rice paper rolls. There can be creativity of what is in the roll and then rolling it. These would work well for dinner and for lunch boxes!

  22. Heather Hopley says

    Preparing a food that they can do in it’s entirety is a great thrill for kids. Rather than being involved in just a few steps (stirring, breaking eggs etc), to start and finish with many steps is a much better motivator for kids to love the kitchen. The Vietnamese Rice paper rolls are a great recipe for the whole family to construct and eat( so tasty and healthy). They can even be made for school lunches so a great way to “show off” their creations.

  23. Apricot and Oat Muffins. Everyone loves a mid afternoon snack.

  24. Coconut Raisin bliss balls look awesome for the lunchbox…and home! My 2 love helping in the kitchen and they would love these!

  25. Caking making is the basis of many of my own first cooking experiences as a child. To re-create the same simple pleasure we would cook the apricot and oat muffins. Its an encouraging recipe too knowing it teaches the formula of snacking right!

  26. Charisse Childs says

    Apricot & Oat Bliss Balls.
    My kids do love baking with me but I think they’ll enjoy making these as they love apricots and knowing what’s in these makes me happy knowing how healthy they are.

  27. Rosemarie De Bari says

    The Hearty Sweet Potato Salad looks delicious – perfect for summer!

  28. Gawd, you’re so right…why do you have to be so right! *sigh*
    Still those recipes we’re sweet little ideas to whip up with my boy on Sunday for their lunch boxes for the week. I liked the bliss balls – always a hit but my fav was the Apricot and Oat muffins. I think they’ll like making and eating them…lets find out!!

  29. I’d love to try the Hearty Sweet Potato Salad – I love sweet potato and have no idea why I’d never thought to put it in a salad! Think I’ve been stuck in a cooking rut lately – but that website has some yummy ideas on it!

  30. Sharon Markwell says

    We’re all ready to try the Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls…well, we will be as soon as we shop for the ingredients. Can’t wait – healthy, easy & fun.

  31. Michelle V says

    The Coconut Raisin Bliss Balls look divine
    And easy enough to make with the three daughters of mine
    They’d love to create these, of that I have no doubt
    And eat them all up before the day is out!

  32. Elizabeth Davey says

    Buckwheat Pancakes with Berries

  33. Laura Scriven says

    Apricot & Oat Bliss Balls
    I’m sure we’d promptly eat them all.
    They love getting their hands in a mess,
    So these seem best!

  34. Tracey Taylor says

    As a teacher of 35 years and a mother of a child named Beth I can definitely say the Apricot and Oat muffins. Sneaky way of getting the goodness in with a child sized treat. I have seen kids at school struggle every day at lunchtime, missing out on play, sitting alone, trying to eat something that really just wont go down their throats. Creativity and portion size is the key. Beth is an older name than Bev, stick to Beth.

  35. Tried the Coconut raisin bliss balls today and they were a huge success! My girls (3yo & 6yo) got involved with the rolling and coating, and there was a fair bit of mess made, but they enjoyed the making and scoffed nearly the whole lot between themselves for afternoon tea. Highly recommend this recipe.

  36. Kylie Bowers says

    Oh I’m so guilty of not letting the kids help 🙁 I don’t mean to be, but its just quicker and cleaner when i do it……..Need to make that change!

  37. tracy wedding says

    Coconut Raisin Bliss Balls would be perfect to make with my 3 year old grand son they are healthier for him and fun to make

  38. The Apricot and Oat bliss balls look like a lot of fun and perfect for my young kids to make!

  39. Judith Senese says

    The Buckwheat Pancakes with Berries, so versatile and a recipe that my boys would love to help make and enjoy eating.

  40. The hearty sweet potato salad sounds like something I would enjoy. I’m afraid to say that I have grown up with few cooking skills. I hated cooking with my mother. But now I have kids I have been motivated to improve my skills and I am actually having fun in the kitchen for the first time. My five year old son is very enthusiastic and we enjoying having a go together.

  41. I like the idea of the Hearty Sweet Potato Salad. My daughters are both salad dodgers and it would be great to try a different salad, that’s not too complicated and would introduce some different flavours to them. I might give it a go!

  42. Melissa Krohn says

    Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls

    I LOVE these

  43. Kerryanne bourke says

    Miss 6 loves to have options for school so we would make the Vietnamese rice paper rolls with a variety of fillings so she can have choice!

  44. Growing the food is what has mr 5 cooking at our house- he has his own patch & chooses what to plant himself.
    He’s so proud if something he grew makes it for the dinner menu he’s bursting to help pick & make the salad or whatever & then eat ” his salad”

  45. Chicken enchiladas – easy to make and yummy to eat – shows reward for effort

  46. vietnamese rice paper rolls, my 3.5 year old has her own peeler and knife from which she loves and you can’t cut yourself so perfect for helping me out in the kitchen!!

  47. My kids are 11 and 13 and they both cook a meal each once a week. We started doing this a couple of years ago. They started off with pretty basic things and we were there to help. They now cook some trickier things with next door to no help. They get to decide on what they cook and put any ingredients they need on the shopping list. They really seem to enjoy it. They also take it in turns each Sunday afternoon to make a slice or cake for their lunch box each week. They really, really enjoy this part. I am really surprised that more kids aren’t doing the same.

  48. My niece is only 22 months but is more then capable – albeit a little uncoordinated – to help mix things together. I’m thinking the buckwheat pancakes would be the perfect choice and a delicious reward for all the hard work…and cleaning up on my behalf!

  49. Rebecca Tompsett says

    Coconut Raisin Bliss Balls

  50. The kids and I would choose Buckwheat Pancakes with Berries. I really must get my kids in the kitchen more.

  51. I have been hopeless about getting my kids involved in cooking – and they’re 10 and 12. Both of them are keen and I really do want to make this a priority. Think I’ll start with the Apricot and Oat Bliss Balls – they look good for a lunch box snack – always looking for new ideas!

  52. The fajitas I think. We often take our boys out to try different cuisines and reenforcing healthy variety at home can only help my wish to eliminate 2 min noodles from our weakly repituare.

  53. Carolyn Wrigley says

    Sweet potato salad. With two little boys, who love to help out, this a great dish that they can help with. It’s healthy and they both love Sweet Potato. I love being in the kitchen with my little ones. It gives me a deep sense of belonging. Watching them experience and create is wonderful.

  54. I’m so slack at getting my kids in the kitchen. A combo of lacking time and space. But I agree it is so important and they are very keen to mix or cracked an egg…
    Eating breakfast is an issue in our house. I’ve managed to get the eldest onto eggs but miss 4 is still resisting. She’s a sucker for creamy things so I might give the bircher muslie with mango and passionfruit a go. She’ll definitely be keen to mix the night before and it might be another prompt for her to try/eat it. BTW, there’s an error in that recipe. Says SRF but I’m sure they mean oats ?

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