Getting kids involved in meal planning, shopping and preparation is a great way to teach them healthy eating habits and spend quality time with them. Instilling healthy habits at an early age can help them develop a healthy relationship with food that can last a lifetime.
Age-appropriate involvement in kitchen activities is important. Obviously, you wouldn’t want the 3 year old using the butcher knife but there is an age-appropriate way to include all children in the kitchen. With very young children, you can have them wash fruit and veggies. Most kids love stirring ingredients in the bowl. As they progress, they can begin measuring ingredients.
Fun Ways to Cook with Kids
- Talk about what foods they would like to have for dinner. Kids can come up with some pretty interesting food choices – and some might not be typical kid foods. Listen to what they enjoy eating and work those suggestions into your meal planning. Instead of offering open-ended choices, give alternatives and let them choose – “would you like green beans or broccoli?”.
- Rename foods. Calling foods by fun names makes kids more likely to eat them. Would you rather have beef tacos or super hero tacos?
- Take them grocery shopping. This may seem like a beat down, but it can be a good opportunity to show children different fruits and vegetables, teach them the names for them and allow them to pick out which ones they like or would like to try. The different colors can be very appealing to kids.
- Let them use kitchen appliances and utensils appropriate for their age. Even toddlers can get excited about dropping foods into the blender and helping make their own smoothie. As skills progress (and with careful supervision), allow them to use other utensils such as rolling pins and measuring cups, vegetable peelers and eventually the stove or oven. Get them kid-friendly utensils of their own like these so they can use their own special cookware. Always be sure to supervise though!
- Get them a kid-friendly cookbook. Recipe books like this one contain vibrant photos and recipes that kids will love and want to make and eat.
- Eat together. Family dinners are a great way to enjoy food as a family and can increase the bond developed by selecting and preparing the food together.
- Let them be creative. Cooking can inspire imagination and creativity. Let them explore different food combinations and let them come with their own invention!
Most importantly, make food fun! Learning about healthy food and proper nutrition can be fun. Meal time does not have to be a battle and can be an enjoyable time for the entire family.
Do your kids help in the kitchen? How do you get your kids involved?
If you have trouble getting your kids to eat their veggies, be sure to get our free download with 13 proven ways to get kids to eat their vegetables here.