With obesity rising at an alarming rate among children in the United States, it’s important that we teach children to cook their own food instead of grabbing for an easy packaged snack. Imparting the knowledge of food and culinary skills should start from an early age, when children are still developing their tastes and are more open to trying different foods.
Colors, tastes, and personalities flourish in the kitchen. There is no other place in the house where more things are created and enjoyed. Many unforgettable memories are made while helping mom or dad in the kitchen cooking meals for the family to enjoy. Here are a few tips on helping getting your children involved in the kitchen:
1. Find ways for your kids to help
There are many age-appropriate tasks for kids. While your child may not be old enough to chop veggies, they can probably help add liquids into cool pots prior to heating, mix together dry ingredients, or do taste tests of dishes along the way. Even small toddlers can be involved by giving them a few bowls and spoons!
2. Get them familiar with kitchen tools
Purchase a few kid sized kitchen items like small cutting boards, graters, and age-appropriate knives and scissors. Teach them how to use these tools correctly, and encourage them to put them to use! Offer kids vegetables to cut, and cheese to grate. Encourage them to try the foods they are working with.
3. Encourage and Supervise
Kids become enthusiastic when encouraged. Make sure to offer positive feedback while they are working in the kitchen. If they are chopping vegetables, don’t take them and re-chop them, just dump them in. Cooking with kids isn’t about perfection: it’s about enjoyment! Additionally, always keep an eye on your children in the kitchen.
4. Let them create
Many children will start creating their own dishes and recipes-encourage it! You’d be surprised at the delicious combinations your children come up with. When you grocery shop, let the child choose a few ingredients with which to create their own dish.
5. Teach kitchen rules
Simple rules like not touching a hot stove, or washing hands before and after cooking are important rules to implement while teaching kids to cook.
6. Make clean-up fun
Cleaning up the kitchen may not seem like fun, but as a child it can be a game! Set a timer for 5 minutes and see how many items you can wash or put away. You can also set a low stool up by the sink so the children can help with dishes. Also, to make clean up easier, lay out newspaper around the child’s workstation so small piles are easily taken care of.
Encouraging kids to be involved in the food preparation process is an important step in creating healthy eating habits in children. Following these few steps can help make meal preparation fun and interesting for the whole family.