Most kid cooking kits supply a child with toys for a game of pretend, but not tools for actual cooking. If you actually want tools, the best I’ve found are from Kuhn Rikon, a line called Kinderkitchen. We have their kitchen shears, their measuring cups, and their whisk. Designed for 3 year olds, they look and operate like professional equipment.
A large plastic lettuce knife is worth buying. Ours is a Zyliss. With it, William became – in his own mind – a chef! And after months and months hauling it everywhere, he has yet to hurt himself. There are knives designed for children, but they are clearly not for tots. William also loves our knife sharpener, which he uses to “sharpen” his big plastic knife. Added bonus: it actually makes it duller.
I let the kids cut directly on their wood desks, but anytime they work elsewhere (whether they are cutting or not), they get a cutting board. It just makes cleanup easier. They know they have to stay on the board. If they’re on the floor, a large board gives them space to work and keeps the food clean. We also have a set of four black cutting boards for meals that we set the table with when I know the boys will want to use a table knife. It is oh so very frustrating to have your meal tip over because you accidentally chopped down too hard on the plate’s edge.
A pair of kid’s metal scissors easily chop herbs – parsley, cilantro, mint, rosemary, etc…
We use simple medium sized stainless steel mixing bowls. They are light to carry, unbreakable, and they have a wide base to keep the bowl flat during mixing. A bowl too small will spill over; a bowl too large is difficult for a child to stir.
A soup spoon works great for small hands. But, it’s nice to have a large mixing spoon to, um, mix it up.
A GARLIC PRESS
Who needs Play-doh when you can squish garlic through a real press? Plus, it’s a great 10 minute task for the kids, when you really must finish chopping the dinner vegetables.
Tongs are fun and generally safe. My kids like to transfer things, so any method – be it odd or challenging – will distract them for hours while developing strength and hand-eye coordination.
We have a mini food processor and a Kitchen-Aid mixer, which we use in a highly controlled way, when necessary. The boys get a quick reminder lesson each time we use them and they know they have to behave or no more mixer! Two safer electric tools are a citrus juicer and the ice cream attachment for the Kitchen-Aid. Both stop if they get a lot of resistance. What makes a kid happier than making ice cream or his own fresh orange juice?
Graters are often extremely sharp, but used with kid’s potato peeling gloves, they are also a lot of fun.
MORTAR AND PESTLE
We make guacamole right at the dinner table.
A wooden reamer is another great way to juice a citrus fruit, making easy work of squeezing a lemon or lime.