The Lunch Bunch

Cooking with your child is a fun, functional, and developmentally appropriate way to work on a variety of skills. Maklunch together to address visual-motor, executive functioning, safety awareness, and self-care skills!  

Developmental Sequence for Meal Preparation 

2 years Copies parents’ domestic activities
3 years Carries things without dropping them, Dries dishes with help, Wipes up spills
4 years Fixes dry cereal and snacks
5 years Makes a sandwich
6 years Cleans sink, Washes dishes with help
7-9 years Begins to cook simple meals
10-12 years Cooks simple meals with supervision, Sets table, Washes dishes
13-14 years Cooks meals independently

Selecting a Recipe 

When selecting a recipe, there are so many ways to support your child!  

  • Choice – Let your child select between 2-3 recipes to foster their sense of autonomy! 
  • Complexity – Following directions is a great way to work on executive functioning skills such as sustained attention, sequencing, and direction following. Set your child up for success! Select recipes that only require 2-3 step directions to begin. Additionally, make sure the language is age-appropriate.  
  • Font size and contrast – To start, select recipes with larger font size and high contrast (e.g. black and white). If they appear overwhelmed, cover up the page so that only one direction is showing at a time.  
  • Pictures – Children are multi-modal learners! This means that they learn from reading, looking, listening, and physically experimenting. Pairing your written directions with pictures may help with comprehension and generalization of skills.  

Cooking Together 

Once you get started, try out some of the following: 

  • Set Up – Make a list of the materials you need with your child! Then, have them go on a scavenger hunt around the kitchen to find everything! This is great for visual scanning and executive functioning skills! 
  • Direction Following – Read each step together! On the first attempt, explain new cooking terminology and model how to do it! Slowly ween off the supports. Let your child problem solve through different steps and encourage them to advocate for help only when needed. 
  • Safety awareness – Discuss safety awareness in the kitchen and model safe practices such as washing your hands, rinsing produce, and using a step stool to grab items among others. Start with recipes that do not require the use of a stove, oven, toaster, blender, or microwave. Developmentally, children begin to prepare hot meals in younger adolescence (12-15 years) with supervision. They are typically independent with safety awareness using complex kitchen equipment in older adolescence (16-21 years). 

Here is a list of easy lunch recipes that are fun and nutritious for the whole family! 

  • Peanut Butter & Jelly 
  • Quesadillas 
  • Ham/Turkey Roll-Ups 
  • Pizza Bagels 
  • Ants on a Log 


Moffett Boyd, M. E., Garbarini, J. G., Kahn D’Angelo, L., O’Sullivan, S. B., & Fleming-Castaldy, R. P. (2017). Human Development Across the Lifespan. In R. P. Fleming-Castaldy (Author), National occupational therapy certification exam: Review & study guide (8th ed., p. 130). Evanston, IL, IL: TherapyEd. 

Dunn, L., Coster W., J, Orsmond, G. I., & Cohn, E. S. (2009). Household task participation of children with and without attentional problems. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 29(3), 234-251; Bloorview Life Skills Institute. (2007). Growing up ready timetable & checklists. Retrieved July 1, 2020, from:;Rodger, S. (2006). I can do it: Developing, promoting, and managing children’s self-care needs. In S. Rodger, & J. Ziviani (Eds), Occupational therapy with children (pp. 200-221). Oxford, UK: Blackwell. 

Eyas Landing is a therapy clinic with a mission to provide evidence-based and family-centered therapy services for children, adolescents, and their families. The primary goal is to deliver relationship-based interventions within the most natural environments and to empower families to reach their full potential. To achieve this goal, our highly educated, compassionate staff dedicates time and expertise to create experiences that maximize therapeutic outcomes. The strength, determination, and perseverance of our clients are evident as they succeed in therapy, and ultimately in their daily lives.

Eyas Landing offers a wide range of comprehensive services including Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, ABA Therapy, Social Work, Family Therapy, and Neuropsych testing. Services are provided throughout the Chicagoland area via Telehealth, In-Home, and in our state of the art clinic.

Want to learn more or you have a specific question? Feel free to connect with us here!

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