Kids in the Kitchen: 5 Ways to Get Your Kids Cooking
Let’s look at ways to get your kids cooking healthy foods. Cooking more meals at home is a great way to improve health. By cooking at home, you can take control over what you and your family eat. Getting kids involved in various stages of cooking has many benefits. Kids feel good about doing “grown-up” tasks, and are more likely to try foods they have helped make. Here are 5 ways to ways to get your kids cooking and to start involving the whole family in preparing meals.
5 ways to get your kids cooking
1. Start slowly. Children as young as 2 can be active in the kitchen, but know what is appropriate for their age and for your individual child. At 2, expect that kids can hand you items to put away, rinse fruits and vegetables, and place things in the trash. At 3, kids can start stirring batter and kneading dough, and at 4, children can help measure dry ingredients and assemble sandwiches and salads.
2. Incorporate learning. The kitchen is a great way to sneak in time for reading, math and other skills. Is your 3 year old learning to count? Have them count out and name all the fruits and vegetables in a recipe. Read out recipes from a cookbook together, or practice spelling ingredients in a recipe as you cook.
3. Try new recipes. Children are much more likely to try foods they have helped make. Use this knowledge to try out new foods, especially produce. Children as young as 3 can help assemble salads, and peel fruits such as oranges and bananas.
4. Give children choices. Let your kids have input and suggestions. Find a balance between introducing new foods and allowing your kids to suggest their favorites. When children are involved with cooking and you consistently introduce new foods and recipes, you might be surprised which ones quickly become favorites. For those not so healthy favorites, find healthier ways to prepare them and remember, every healthy diet has room for occasional treats.
5. Cast food in a positive light. One of the biggest impacts of teaching your kids to cook is creating a healthy and positive relationship with food. Cooking meals as a family contributes to time together as a family, producing and enjoying something wonderful together.
For more recipes and ideas on how to get kids into the kitchen, our registered dietitian nutritionist and health coaches can help you and your family set up a healthy eating plan and shopping list.
Andrea Berez, MS, RD, CSP
Pediatric Registered Dietitian