Did you know that kids are more likely to eat a meal they helped plan or prepare? It’s true! When participating in the preparation of their own food, kids are more invested in the end product. They can see, touch, and smell the different ingredients, which may make them more likely to taste it. Put your kids to work in the kitchen! Here are a few ideas to include them in the mealtime process:
In the Planning Stage: Kids (especially younger kids) love feeling like they are in charge. Let them choose between two options you would be willing to make for dinner, “Should we make tacos or stir fry?”
In the Grocery Store: Let your kids pick a vegetable or a fruit to have as a snack that day. You may end up finding a new favorite!
In the Kitchen: Let them whisk, stir, or measure ingredients in a recipe. Older kids can be in charge of making a side dish or salad.
Benefits of Kids in the Kitchen
Involving kids in the cooking process often takes more time, planning, and clean up. So why bother? The benefits to be gained are more than just extra hands helping with a meal.
Enforce Healthy Habits: People who cook at home more often than eating out tend to have healthier eating habits and spend less money on food. By involving your kid in the kitchen you are building healthy eating and financial behaviors as well as cooking skills. You are also increasing confidence. What kid wouldn’t be proud of completing a dish (mostly) all by themselves?
Build Relationships: cooking together is an excellent way to spend one-on-one time with your child. It is a chance to talk while also getting something done. Win-win right? In addition, studies have shown that children who have a good relationship with their parents are less likely to use drugs and alcohol.
Increase Knowledge: The kitchen is a great learning environment. Making a recipe involves reading and direction following skills. Not to mention the new vocabulary words such as ‘scald’, ‘braise’, ‘poach’, and many others that pop up in a recipe. Measuring ingredients give kids an opportunity to practice math skills; especially when halving or doubling a recipe. Finally, the kitchen is an excellent place for science experiments. Questions such as, “What makes bread dough rise?” or “What happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar?” open the doors to educational conversations.
Once you get to the dinner table it’s a whole different beast
Dip it: If a child isn’t too excited about a food at the dinner table, they might be willing to try it with a dip. Hummus, ketchup, mustard, Bbq sauce, ranch, and peanut butter are all popular choices.
Swap it: If they really turn their nose up at something at the table, allow them to swap one food for another, as long as it’s in the same food group. For example: allow a child who doesn’t like the green beans on the table to get some baby carrots out of the fridge.