Everyone needs to eat so it should be no surprise that making and cooking food is a necessary life skill. My kids enjoy cooking and like to learn new techniques and try new recipes. This is life skill that is more than just planning and cooking. There is a need to get ready to cook. Items need to be washed, mixed, measured and cut. These are skills that can be taught to all ages.
Many vegetables and fruits should be washed before they are eaten or used in recipes. My kids always help to clean and prep the veggies and fruits we will be using as snacks for the week. Using a cleaner specifically made to wash produce, or a homemade wash, and a vegetable brush is both fun and easy for kids to do, no matter what age.
Mixing is one of the basic preparations that can be done by even the youngest of kids. Helping to mix dry ingredients for scones was one of the first (and messiest) think my kids helped with in the kitchen. Learning how to combine dry and wet ingredients takes more care and makes more messes. Cutting or creaming butter into a recipe is another level of prep too. Using equipment rather than spoons and/or forks is something for older kids to tackle. Remember to always supervise with equipment.
Even young kids like to be involved with cooking and measuring is a great way to get them started. Many items need to be measured for baking and cooking. Different methods can be used to measure specific items. Liquids can be measured in special cups for fluid ounces or as a cup or fraction of a cup. They can also be measured by teaspoon, tablespoon or a fraction of either. The same is true of dry ingredients. Flour, sugars and such can be measured by ounces, cups, teaspoons, tablespoons or fractions of any of those. There are even special items for measuring solids like butter, shortening, margarine, and purees (like pumpkin). Keep in mind that baking is more dependent on getting measurements correct than some cooking. Remember that being able to add a dash of this or a dab of that is part of the fun of cooking too.
Vegetables, fruits, and meats sometimes need to b cut before they are cooked. They can be chopped, cubed, diced or minced. Learning how to use a sharp knife properly is very important. There are different types of knives and each one has a specific purpose. This is a skill that needs to be closely monitored and only taught when you think the child is responsible enough to handle it.
Preparing to cook and bake is part of the fun so we include it as part of our life skills. I have also been know to throw in a bit of math with measuring. It is always fun when you can combine subjects with life skills.