I love having my kids help me in the kitchen. It wasn’t always easy to get them off the couch and into the kitchen. But taking the time to teach them to cook and be independent in the kitchen is something that I believe will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Research has shown that cooking and nutrition classes for children help promote healthy eating and better attitudes toward healthy foods. Teaching a child to cook fosters independence, gives them more control over their diet and overall is very empowering. Not to mention the great quality time you get to spend with your kids. Here are some suggestions to help get your kids in the kitchen.
Give your kids an “assignment.” Tell them what is for dinner and that you would like them to help you make it but you aren’t sure what the ingredients are. Have them look up a recipe online and tell you what food group each ingredient comes from.
Have your child come up with a healthy “secret ingredient” they would like to include in a recipe. Explain that gourmet chefs use “secret ingredients” to make their recipes special. An example would be lasagna and they might select to put zucchini or carrots in the lasagna as their “secret ingredient.”
Develop their math skills by asking them to double or even half a recipe. For very young children, you can have them help you measure and count. I used to have my children count out chocolate chips or nuts while I was baking. This kept them occupied and made them excellent counters!
Have your older children actually plan a meal for the family based on the new MyPlate food guidelines. Tell them you will help with the cooking but the plan is entirely their own.
Coincide what is going on in the kitchen with what is going on in the classroom. If your child is learning about a certain country or culture in their class, plan a meal of authentic food from that country. Or maybe they are learning about nutrition, talk about and plan meals around what they are learning.
What about making homemade goodies for holiday gifts? One year my son made homemade granola in the dehydrator, packaged it in jars and sent it to Grandparents. He was so proud of himself and the Grandparents weren’t complaining either!
I hope you have fun spending time in the kitchen with your children and that it is the start of life long healthy habits.
Photo courtesy of momlogic.com