Engaging your kids in cooking helps them learnimportant life skills, and it enables you to spend time together as a family. But where do you begin? To introduce children to the culinary arts, start by explaining what the ingredients are and how they become a meal. Cookbook author Mollie Katzen—who has three titles for children: Pretend Soup, Honest Pretzels, and Salad People—suggests putting the ingredients down on a child-size table so the kids are more comfortable and can easily see what you're doing. (For older kids, use an electric skillet on the dining room table.) And use bowls that are much larger than what you need for the tasks until the kids master mixing skills. One chore that's ideal for kids as young as 2, Katzen says, is to give them a large bowl with a little water in it, a baby zucchini, and a scrub brush. "They're going to feel useful," she says. "They're going to feel like it's their turf as well as your turf."
As kids get older, they can make—or help with—more complex recipes or even make dinner once a week.