Even if your children don’t show much interest in preparing meals, you should get them into the kitchen any time you can.
What you let them do to help will depend on how old they are (and how responsible they are). Some kids will be able to help with hot stuff and cutting things, while smaller hands can still stir by hand and help add things into dishes.
Teaching Kids Healthy Eating by Cooking Together
When kids get to spend some time in the kitchen, they’ll become more open to new foods. They might even be willing to eat some more vegetables if they have a hand in the preparations. It definitely makes meal times more fun and healthier.
They’re also learning a lifelong skill that will help them as they grow into adults. It’s sad when an adult doesn’t even know how to boil an egg. Don’t let that be your kids – get them in the kitchen and help them learn to cook all of the things you know how to cook.
There are a lot of ways you can get them excited about cooking healthy foods with you.
1. Let Them Help Pick Recipes
Your kids will be more likely to want to try something new if they get to pick the recipe. These days, you don’t even need to have a recipe book in the house – there are millions of recipes online to choose from. You can even search for recipes with specific ingredients.
Make cooking a learning experience by investigating foods from different cultures. You can start by looking into your personal family history, or maybe a culture they’ve been learning about in school. They’ll have fun experimenting with, and learning about, foods from places like Mexico and China.
Go through the recipes with them and make sure they understand everything they contain. Explain the difference between prep time and cook time. Go over measurements with them too.
2. Let Them Be Your Prep Cook
Before your child starts doing all the cooking on their own, have them be your sous chef. Let them do the prepping, like measuring things out and dicing vegetables and meat.
Teach them about food safety in the meantime. When cooking with raw meat, and even eggs, this is even more important.
Younger children that are old enough to help in the kitchen but not old enough to use a knife can still help out. Let them mix ingredients together.
If they have the dexterity, you can even teach them how to use a hand mixer. Better yet, if you have a table mixer, anyone can use it by just pushing a button.
3. Practice Baking and Cooking with Them
Don’t just stick to cooking things on the stovetop. Make sure you teach them how to bake for dinners and desserts as well.
Teach them how to safely use an oven, from setting it at the proper temperatures to what to do if a gas stove won’t light.
Make sure they know how to properly use hand protection when removing items from the stovetop and from inside the oven. You also want to make sure they know that the top of the stove can heat up when you’re baking something in the oven.
Safety is important and it should come first at all times.
4. Talk About What Makes a Healthy Food
You don’t want to only teach your child how to make hamburgers and macaroni with cheese. Make sure you are using your time with them in the kitchen to teach them about healthy food and why it’s important to eat healthily. Talk to them about the vitamins and minerals the human body requires for optimum health.
You should also consider showing them the USDA’s MyPlate, which will teach all of you the recommended food allowances you should get each day. The website for MyPlate has a lot of useful information that will help you and your family be smarter about foods.
You can also discuss different dietary choices people make, like eating vegan or vegetarian. Talk about food allergies and intolerances, including the reasons some people eat gluten-free or dairy-free diets.
Learning these things will come in handy in the future, whether your child works in restaurants or just cooks for their own friends and family.
Other Things to Talk About in the Kitchen
Keeping the kitchen clean is important, as it helps keep from spreading bacteria that could make everyone sick. Talk about leaving foods out, and which ones are more likely to cause food poisoning if they’re not kept at a certain temperature.
It’s also important to teach your children to wash their hands before cooking, in between prepping items, and after prepping too.
Feature image via parentingsquad.com