You can never have too many cooks in the kitchen when you’re a parent. During meal times and busy mornings, a helping hand comes in, well…handy. From unloading the dishwasher to planning a family meal, we’ve got a full menu of options. Keep reading for 10 tasks that’ll train up your sous chef in no time.

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

1. Load or unload the dishwasher. This easy task is one even two-and three-year-olds can do, and not just because it’s right at their (ground) level. Pulling out silverware or dropping it in baskets will be their new helping-hand fave!

2. Unpack the groceries. When you set your grocery bags on the floor, expect eager toddlers to want to join in the fun. They unpack, you put away is the easiest way to run this task train.

3. Wash fruits and veggies. Step right up to the sink toddlers and preschoolers, your fresh fruits and veggies need a quick bath before you dig in!

4. Make a healthy snack. Simplify your after-school snack routine with a little help from your crew. Preschoolers and kindergartners can prep easy foods like toast, hard-boiled eggs, or fruits and veggies while they debrief about their day.

5. Read a recipe. Put the “if you can read, you can cook” adage to the test with your beginning reader. Once your sidekick has the basics, let him read a favorite recipe while you two whip up a meal together.

photo: Tim Pierce via Flickr

6. Use measuring cups and spoons. Insert a covert lesson on fractions while cooking with your grade-schooler. Before you know it, she’ll be leading the math pack at school.

7. Use a stand mixer. Your grade-schooler can pour, sift and mix up his favorite batch of cookies using a stand mixer, without too much supervision, around this age. Waistlines, beware!

8. Use a knife. The best thing since sliced bread is your sidekick doing the slicing. Around second or third grade, let her carefully cut up fruits, veggies, bread and more so you don’t have to.

9. Boil water. Teach your second or third grader this gateway kitchen skill and before you know it, she’ll be cooking up pasta, hard-boiling an egg and steaming brocco—scratch that—green beans while you prepare the main course!

10. Plan a meal. Sit back and breathe easy, your kidlet’s got this one. Once he’s ten, he can plan the family dinner and write out the grocery list too! Driving to the store…well, that’s up to you.

What kitchen tasks have your kids mastered? Tell us how it’s going in a comment. 

—Allison Sutcliffe