Getting kids involved in the kitchen helps them to learn solid eating habits that will carry them throughout their lives. When you allow kids, even young kids, to help with preparing healthy meals, then they’ll be comfortable preparing healthy meals down the line when they really need to! For kids who are active in sports like soccer, healthy eating is an essential part of the lifestyle that they’re already partaking in through physical activity. This is one of those areas that we as parents are tempted to take over with our children. Having your children help out in food preparation will take more time than doing it yourself, particularly in the beginning. But if you stick with it, you’ll find that you actually save a lot of time, plus you’ll find that you are building some great family memories!
Here are four ways to get your child involved in the kitchen:
Menu planning is one of the hardest issues for families to tackle, as there are often serious disagreements. Get your kids involved by letting them pick meals, with the only stipulation being that what they pick must be healthy. Then get them involved in making the list for the shops, including evaluating what you’ve already got and looking over recipes to see how much you need.
Taking kids to the supermarket doesn’t usually sound like a fun thing, but if you create a list and stick to it, then you’ll find that it’s not nearly so bad. Not to mention learning to make a list and sticking to it will help them to make smart shopping choices when they’re older. Tip: Make sure that everyone eats well before you go. Hungry shoppers ask for treats!
One big tip here is to do all of the measuring and cutting before the meal – just like the meals that you see on cooking shows. This will keep frustration at bay during the actual cooking when there are lots of hands in the pot, and it will allow you to supervise cutting and measuring closely. Kids can help crack eggs and measure ingredients, fetch things from the fridge, and put things away to keep the work area tidy.
4. Cleaning Up
Part of making a meal is cleaning up afterwards. This is just a cold, hard fact of life! You might be tempted to just let kids go to play and do this yourself, but you’ll only make yourself work harder. Don’t forget to wipe down counters and sweep the floor, both great jobs even for little ones. This is also a great time to check for food in the fridge that might be past its prime, so you can direct your children to get rid of it while you’re washing dishes!
The most important thing is to get kids into the kitchen in any capacity that you can. From washing dishes, to setting the timer on the oven, to stirring, kids love to help out when given the chance, and you get to feel great about instilling healthy habits!