Parents want to equip their children with useful skills to survive as adults. One often overlooked yet vital skill that will help your child at every stage of their life is knowing how to cook. Not to mention getting kids involved in cooking will make them more interested in food in general, making your task at meal times a whole lot easier!
So, if your children make a fuss about eating healthy homemade foods, one way to get them to like their food is to help them prepare it. Luckily, getting children to help out in the kitchen is easier than you might think, and this article will teach you how to do it.
Ten tips to get your children involved in cooking
Kids are fussy eaters for many reasons. They may not like the shapes, textures, or even colors of certain foods you might be offering them. However, when they are helping you prepare the food and know all the ingredients that go into cooking food, it will pique their interest in eating it.
With that said, getting kids involved in cooking will require patience and some creativity. Here are ten tips that can help parents to get their children into cooking:
1. Tell children about ingredients
As mentioned earlier, children often dislike certain foods because they don’t like their shape, color, or textures. However, when kids know more about what ingredients go into certain dishes and how they change after cooking, they will be encouraged to try it for themselves.
The process involved in taking certain ingredients and turning them into delicious foods can be fascinating to kids. A good way to walk your children through different steps of preparing and cooking ingredients is to have them stand beside you while you prepare the ingredients.
Sit on a table with your children, and if they are old enough, have them prepare the ingredients with you. Or they can always watch you do it. Then have them taste the food once it is done, so they know how each ingredient changes once it is cooked.
2. Bring your kids grocery shopping
Start from the source and bring your children grocery shopping. Whether you shop for food ingredients at a grocery store or the farmers market, use this opportunity to get children involved in picking the ingredients for meals.
Or, if you are worried about social distancing, you can try meal delivery kits such as HelloFresh, or Sunbasket and ask your children to help pick ingredients for daily meals. Kids like to be creative so ask them to select various combinations of ingredients that you can cook with their help to make delicious recipes.
Shopping together for groceries and ingredients will also help your kids learn more about what ingredients go into different foods. Before you realize it, your children will pick the ingredient combinations for their favorite meals and be excited to cook and eat them.
3. Get kid-friendly kitchen tools
One reason why children might not be interested in cooking with you is that they don’t find cooking fun. A great way to add an element of fun into cooking for your children is to get designated kid-friendly kitchen tools for them.
You can easily find colorful spoons, measuring cups, child-sized aprons, and oven mitts. Or, if you want to really involve your children in the kitchen tools, you can decorate their tools with them. Adding stickers of their favorite cartoon characters and other decorations to their kitchen tools will get them excited about using them.
If your children are old enough, take them to the kitchen utensils section at a store and have them pick their own kitchen equipment. When they have the kitchen utensils that they like, they will love to use them for cooking with you.
4. Assign kitchen tasks to your children
Your kids are not going to learn how to cook on their own accord. Just like learning how to walk, you have to help them take baby steps towards cooking, and a place for them to start is by helping around the kitchen. To build your child’s habit of contributing to the meal preparation process, you can assign small kitchen tasks according to their age.
If your children are older, you can assign them the task of measuring ingredients for recipes. Or have them prepare ingredients for the meals as long as they don’t require using sharp cutting utensils that pose a risk of injury to your kids.
You have to be a bit careful when assigning kitchen tasks for younger children. Something as simple as pressing the button or turning the dial on a food processor or a juicer machine counts as help. Or you can ask them to turn the oven off or on to get them involved in cooking activities.
5. Watch cooking shows/videos with your children
Cooking programs and videos designed for children are always helpful for getting them interested in cooking. You can start watching cooking shows with your children as a way to introduce them to the concept of cooking while entertaining them at the same time.
Shows such as MasterChef Junior are designed specifically for kids, and since the stars of these shows are kids, your children will find these shows relatable. They will learn how cooking works, get introduced to new dishes and eventually try the recipes for themselves.
This tip is ideal for parents looking for shows that they can watch with their children with the added bonus of getting them started with cooking.
6. Start a mini garden
Want to take your children to the very basics of where their meals come from? Starting a mini garden in your own backyard is going to teach them exactly where their food comes from.
You can start by creating a space in your backyard to grow vegetables and encourage your children to care for the plants. Once the vegetables begin to grow and they have the first harvest, they will eventually want to eat them.
The next logical step would be to teach your kids how to cook and eat the veggies they have grown. Children and even adults are often unfamiliar with how their food is produced in the first place. Growing their own food will teach your kids about cooking and how their food is grown.
Gardening combined with great cooking skills should be taught parallel to one another if possible. That way, your kids will know how they can cook their own food and grow it all by themselves.
7. Let them choose the recipes
Chances are you, as a parent, have been picking recipes that your family eats for each day of the week. If you notice that your children aren’t interested in the meals you are preparing, get them involved when deciding the recipes.
When they pick healthy recipes themselves, they will be more willing to eat them and be interested in how they are prepared. This tip is going to help you achieve two goals at once. You can get your children to eat better and for them to try cooking their favorite recipes.
Now, of course, the recipes that your children pick need to be healthy. You will need to supervise the ingredients and the process of preparing the recipes your children want to try to make sure they don’t contain any unhealthy ingredients or additives.
8. Let your kids experiment in the kitchen
Do you remember your first time cooking? Chances are, your first recipe wasn’t a complete success. However, experimentation is a key part of the learning process, especially for children. If you want to get your children into a habit of helping out with cooking, let them try to cook something using ingredients of their choice.
It may not be a successful experiment, especially if your kids are too young, but it will give them hands-on cooking experience. This tip can be applied after your children have been helping out in the kitchen for a while and understand how cooking utensils work. Even if the combination of ingredients your kids choose for their experiment is strange, you should go along with it.
Note: The experimentation will need to be supervised. If the recipe involves the use of the stove, oven, or any sharp utensils, handle the hazardous steps yourself.
9. Start teaching at an early age
Toddlers tend to develop habits and interests quickly, so you can get them interested in cooking earlier by giving them wooden spoons, measuring cups, and other safe kitchen tools.
You can also find kitchen toys that your toddlers can play with and become comfortable using them. Then, as they get older, it will be easier for them to transition to actual kitchen appliances and utensils used for cooking.
10. Family cooking competitions
This tip is for families with older children. Family cooking competitions or cookouts are going to get everyone in the family involved in cooking, including the young ones. Specify rewards for the winner, so everyone has an incentive to participate in the family cookout.
You can use a $5 gift card, stuffed toys, or a visit to the winner’s favorite place as a prize for the competition.
The ten tips above are applicable to children of various ages. Whether your children are young or older, it is never too late to get them in the kitchen. When your children get older, they will thank you for helping them learn an essential life skill. Eating home-cooked meals is the best way to ensure you are eating healthy.
Not to mention, as parents, you will have an extra set of hands helping you out with cooking. Which means you can spend more time with your children. Alternatively, if you want to save a little more time, check out our favorite meal kit delivery services.