Recently I wrote an article which gave my top 2 tips for getting kids to eat well/healthily. Well, today, on Food Day, I give my third top tip: let them help prepare the food. And I don’t mean just getting them to bake cookies with you. Although fun, baking shouldn’t be the only time parents let their children help. I understand if someone is nervous with hot stoves or knives, but under supervision, children of many ages can do so much to be involved. Sometimes, just scooping out frozen peas from a bag, measuring rice, or simply stirring a pot gives a child the sense of involvement which in turn can get them more interested in the foods you will serve them. Peeling carrots and potatoes has been one of our children’s favorite ways to lend a hand.
My sons have been helping us on and off most of their lives. We showed them how to cut with knives from about 4 years old up. Yes, sharp chef’s knives. (Under supervision and something that is not too difficult/slippery to cut. ) They’ve been stirring pots and adding ingredients for what seems like ages. My eldest son is now 11 and he prepares his own fried egg and cheese sandwiches for breakfast or some simple meals for lunch/dinner. He’s in Boy Scouts and they have to plan/shop for/cook their own meals when they go camping each month which is fabulous and opening new and different methods of cooking too (Dutch ovens in a fire pit).
My sons will help set and clear the table and will also do dishes/pots & pans, but that’s more about discipline and contributing to the family. Cooking with kids is truly a fabulous way to try new foods and expand their palate.
Often kids are more likely to eat the food they’ve contributed in preparing because they’re proud they helped. My youngest once said “It tastes even better when I help make it!” One of my girlfriends said that’s because you put love in as an ingredient.
So, tonight or tomorrow or another day soon… give them a chance to help out making something healthy. It’ll teach them what the food looks like before it’s cooked, during and of course after. Share with them and watch their eagerness in eating that food.