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  • Writer's pictureChef Ashley, Back 2 Basics Cooking

Cooking Skills to Kickstart Your Culinary Journey: Tips for Every Generation

Hey there, fellow food enthusiasts! Chef Ashley here, and today we're diving into the exciting world of cooking skills for every age. But before we do, I just need to say to that kids, even the very young ones, are often more capable than we give them credit for and can achieve more than we think if given the space and chance to do so.

When children are provided with the right environment and support, they can surprise us with their creativity, problem-solving skills, and resilience. Encouraging them to explore, learn, and make mistakes can lead to remarkable growth and development, far beyond our initial expectations. Don't let these suggested skills limit you! If your 3-year-old is ready to make scrambled eggs, encourage them to go for it!

Cooking Skills for Early Childhood (Ages 2-4)

Let's start with the tiny tots. Trust me, even at this tender age, kids can do more than just make a mess. Introducing them to cooking helps develop motor skills, creativity, and confidence.

Skills to Learn:

  • Basic kitchen safety: Start with washing hands. It's simple yet crucial.

  • Pouring, mixing, and kneading dough: Little hands love these tasks!

  • Recognizing common ingredients and kitchen tools: Make it a fun game.

Encouraging Independence: Give them the freedom to try things independently. Yes, it might get messy, but that's part of the fun and learning!

Engaging Activities:

  • Creating dough shapes, stirring pancake batter, assembling simple snacks, and cutting soft foods like bananas with a butter knife or kid-safe knife. After gaining some practice, they can progress to using a real knife under supervision. I'll write a comprehensive blog post on knife skills soon.

  • Mini Fruit Pizza or Creating Fruit Kebabs.

Cooking Skills for Young Children (Ages 5-10)

As kids grow, so does their ability to handle more complex tasks. Cooking at this age fosters creativity, builds confidence, and teaches them about nutrition.

Skills to Learn:

  • Basic kitchen safety: Introduce handling sharp utensils safely, including basic knife skills.

  • Following simple recipes, including stirring, mixing, and measuring ingredients.

  • Recognizing and naming common ingredients and kitchen tools.

Encouraging Independence: Let them try tasks independently and work through challenges without jumping in. You'll be amazed at what they can accomplish!

Engaging Activities:

  • Easy recipes like fruit salads, sandwiches, or no-bake treats.

  • Anything that involves cracking eggs, such as scrambled eggs, egg muffins, or omelets.

  • Engaging in baking and creative activities like making and decorating cookies, cakes, or homemade pizzas.

Cooking Skills for Preteens (Ages 11-14)

Preteens are on the brink of independence, and cooking becomes a valuable life skill.

At this age, they can handle more complex recipes and tasks.

Skills to Learn:

  • Following slightly more complex recipes and understanding measurement conversions.

  • Continue on basic knife skills and safe food handling practices.

  • Introduction to cooking techniques like boiling, baking, and sautéing.

Encouraging Independence: Give preteens space to experiment and learn from mistakes. They'll thank you later!

Engaging Activities:

  • Preparing family meals with some supervision. If a meal they like and want to learn to prepare and have them prepare it once a week for dinner (or breakfast!), at first with help, then less and less until they have made it enough times to prepare it on their own!

  • Introduce your child to the world of flavors by experimenting with spices in simple dishes. Show them how different spices can transform a meal entirely!

Cooking Skills for Teenagers (Ages 15-18)

Cooking during teenage years helps build independence and equips them with essential life skills for adulthood.

Skills to Learn:

  • Planning and preparing their own meals.

  • Advanced knife skills and complex cooking techniques like grilling and roasting.

  • A culinary creative outlet, such as cake decorating or perfecting a cookie recipe!

Encouraging Independence: Encourage teens to take ownership of their cooking projects, from planning to execution.

Engaging Activities:

  • Help with creating the weekly meal plans and grocery lists.

  • Trying out new recipes from different cuisines.

  • Kneading dough, crafting fresh pasta, and experimenting with creating their own sauces.

Cooking Skills for Young Adults (Ages 19-30)

Young adults should have cooking skills to manage their health, budget, and time effectively. Cooking can also be a great way to destress and bond with others.

Skills to Learn:

  • Efficient meal prep and batch cooking.

  • Advanced cooking techniques like braising and fermenting.

  • Exploring dietary preferences and restrictions (e.g., vegetarian, gluten-free).

Encouraging Independence: Reiterate that all ages can master any cooking skill with practice.

Engaging Activities:

  • Hosting dinner parties or cooking for friends and family.

  • Experimenting with seasonal ingredients and local produce.

  • Master a new culinary skill, such as rolling sushi.

Cooking Skills for Those Raising Families

Cooking while raising a family presents unique challenges and joys.

Skills to Learn:

  • Time-saving techniques and meal planning for busy schedules.

  • Preparing nutritious, family-friendly meals.

  • Involving children in the cooking process to teach them valuable skills.

Engaging Activities:

  • Batch cooking and freezer meals.

  • Family cooking nights with easy, collaborative recipes.

Cooking Skills for Adults and Seniors (Ages 46+)

Importance: Cooking can continue to be a source of joy and creativity throughout life.

Skills to Learn

  • Mastering time-saving kitchen hacks and techniques.

  • Exploring gourmet cooking and presentation skills.

  • Adapting recipes to accommodate changing dietary needs.

Engaging Activities:

  • Taking cooking classes or joining culinary clubs.

  • Passing down family recipes and traditions to younger generations.


From toddlers pouring and mixing to seniors perfecting gourmet dishes, there's a cooking skill for every age. Remember, it's never too late to start learning new culinary tricks, and practice really does make perfect.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a spatula, turn up the heat, and let's create something delicious together. And don't forget to share your cooking journeys and favorite recipes with us in the comments or on social media. Happy cooking!

a little boy cooking
"From toddlers pouring and mixing to seniors perfecting gourmet dishes, there's a cooking skill for every age."


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