There are these cute things on the market called "learning towers" that are a safe way for kids to be helpers in the kitchen. They retail for about $200 and take up a huge amount of room, so we did our own version with a fold away step stool. It doesn't have the fancy height adjustor or four-sided safety enclosure but it was 25 bucks and takes up zero floor space when folded. I just have to keep a close eye on him while he's using it.
Here AW is "helping" me make lasagna.
Yep, we need garlic powder, AW. Good job. Ok, now we need salt.
Ok, whoa, that's a lot of salt. AW? Hello? Stop pouring salt everywhere! Oh, you have stopped listening to me and are just dead set on pouring salt now. Ok, I get it. Backing away now and finishing dinner while you are in the "zone." Now, I know what you are thinking. Stop the kid from wasting salt! Well, then we have a half hour meltdown to deal with and I've got to get dinner ready in 15. Calculated risks, people. Everyone's happy at this moment in time and everyone will get dinner. I'll clean up later when they go to bed and try to reuse that salt for cleaning purposes. Did you know pouring salt on a wine spill right away will help pull the stain away from fibers? All good wine drinkers should.