Vegetarian Cooking Ideas for Preschoolers

Looking for cooking activities for preschoolers? These ideas for plant-based families are educational, fun, and tasty!

a mom and child grating cheese together in a kitchen

When I was little, I got so much joy from cooking with my mom. We often baked together, preparing  cookies and pies.

My mom taught me my way around the kitchen. Later, she bravely gave me free rein.

Oh, she was brave!

I’d concoct brownies with too many ingredients (butterscotch chips, cherry juice, coconut flakes, and marshmallows) and overcooked vegetables, getting the hang of cooking and baking as I headed into my teen years.

Now, creating recipes is part of my job, and I have my mom to thank for nurturing my early curiosity and love of food.

Young Amy sitting on the floor playing with kitchen utensils
My mom let me in the kitchen from a very early age!

Cooking activities for preschoolers

Spending time cooking with your kids allows them to appreciate where their food comes from and can help them be healthy eaters now and into adulthood.

Cooking projects for kids also offers opportunity for math lessons and encourages creativity.

When you’re a plant-based family, you can easily get your preschooler into the kitchen. It just takes some planning!

Here are seven vegetarian cooking activities for preschoolers that you and your children are bound to love.

a cute little girl wearing a yellow apron washing her hands in a kitchen

1. Choose a recipe

Here’s a fun idea: Sit with your preschooler and together go through a cookbook. Let her flag any recipes with photos that look enticing.

When my children can see pictures for recipes, they get excited about what they are going to create,” says,” says Tara Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, author of Pregnancy Cooking and Nutrition for Dummies.

“If I suggest something to them randomly, they might turn up their nose,” she says. “But if they are involved in the process, it makes a world of difference in their acceptance of food!”

2. Let them pick their produce

“Kids feel empowered and way more enthusiastic about trying new foods and helping in the kitchen when it’s something they have played a part in,” says Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, author of 52-Week Meal Planner.

“Whether it’s a funky looking mushroom or a box of beautiful red strawberries that jumps out at them in the produce aisle, it will be fun to cook up what they’ve picked!” she says.

3. Collaborate on menu creation

 “Each Wednesday, I had a child create a menu with foods from each of the food groups—meat, starch, veggie, fruit, and milk,” says Chere Bork, MS, RDN, owner of Savor Your Life Today.

“I would like to believe both of my children like to cook to this day because it was an expected part of our everyday family life,” she says. “It warmed my heart that when they went to college what they missed the most was family dinner time!”

a small bowl reaching for strawberries on a counter

4. Make cooking fun

“When my kids were small, I tried to make cooking time fun time,” says Keri Gans, RDN, author of The Small Change Diet.

“I started them with the simplest of tasks, using a vegetable peeler on carrots and cucumbers, washing grape tomatoes, or scrubbing the potatoes,” she says.

“These easy chores always involved foods they enjoyed to eat. It was amazing to see the sheer joy of accomplishment they felt when we sat down at the dinner table.”

5. Create food art

“Encourage kids to get creative and have fun with it!” say Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CFT, co-authors of Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure.

“They can make their own pizza, selecting toppings like veggies to decorate the pizza and then creating faces or scenes. They can also choose their own ingredients to stuff burritos, fill tacos, or omelets.”

close up of flour in a measuring cup

6. Turn cooking into a math lesson

“In the kitchen, my children love to scoop,” says Hope Scott Paul, MS, RD, a certified diabetes educator in Export, PA.

“I get their help measuring out flour, oatmeal, rice—whatever is scoop-able!” she says. “I’m trying to get some fraction work in using measuring cups with my older son.”

a child being silly holding up eggs over her eyes

7. Name the guest chef

 “Once you sit down to eat, acknowledge your sous chef’s contributions to the rest of the family,” says Diana Rice, RD, nutrition blogger at The Baby Steps Dietitian.

“The sense of pride this creates will inspire them to get back in the kitchen again and again!” she says.

Final thoughts

Whatever cooking activities for preschoolers you choose, spending time with your little one in the kitchen will help her learn about food, where it comes from, and how it feeds us.

Sources

Looking for cooking activities for preschoolers? These ideas for plant-based families are educational, fun, and tasty!

I’d love to hear from you! What types of cooking activities for preschoolers do you most enjoy?

Plant-Based Eating |

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