Cooking with kids is fun, okay messy too, but fun. But most parents tend to fear the mess, or are scared of the spills and burns and the dirt – most of them are worried about the safety of their kids around stoves and knives.
But what if we told you that cooking with kids help them learn more about the food, where it comes from, and how to prepare it. In fact, getting kids involved in the kitchen and showing them how to prepare simple and easy meals sets them up for a future where they can make informed choices about what they eat and take control of their health.
We, as parents, often don’t find the time to prepare food from scratch for our kids and family. This means that majority of the children rely on processed food. In addition, most of the children find junk food addictive and are not aware of the right portion control.
All of this taken together and various other factors regarding lifestyle choices are few reasons that the number of obese and overweight children is growing every single day.
It’s never too late to take a step back, bring children into the kitchen and start making healthier foods for the family.
What more, there is a lot of research done which state that parents who cook along with their children have a wider variety of food in their diet. If kids are involved in preparing and cooking the food, they are far more likely to eat it!
Here are 5 simple tips to get you started
1- Make some time
It doesn’t have to be 7 days a week, you can simply keep some time away for cooking with your kids over weekends and holidays. Set aside a couple of hours and prepare a simple meal such as Thai Style Noodles with Spinach and Leeks. Just remember that this can include shopping for the ingredients too, or just sharing various jobs, like keeping a check on the time when boiling the noodle sticks or even mixing the ingredients of the recipe all together in the bowl or simply chopping the vegetables for the noodles. Another great place to start off is with breakfast. It is, after all, the most important meal of the day, and full of basics. Pancakes, egg dishes, fruit salads, dosas, or super powered smoothies are all very easy, super-quick and invaluable in the nutrition quotient.
2- Find the right recipe
Sometimes, some recipes might look super easy to make but can spell disaster. To start off, begin with some of the recipes that your kid likes to eat. Cooking their favorite dishes would get them hooked. Always keep an eye out for easy recipes that come with a clear set of instructions and with enough small tasks that would keep those little minds and hands busy (and safe!).
3 - Start with basic equipments in the kitchen
You don’t really need to step out to buy special kitchen equipment just for your kids. Just make sure that the knives are sharp, they have protection, chopping boards are secured and they have their aprons on. Keep an extra set of bowls to separate scraps and teach your kids to keep the work station clean even if they are cooking up a storm! (like, literally) If you are still not convinced whether your kitchen is suitable for your kids, here are some things you need – a food processor, sharp knives, kitchen towels, gloves, different bowls, pans, peeler, measuring cups, pestle and mortar, grater and basically everything that you already have in your kitchen.
4- Make cooking fun
Most kids are. The important thing is to let them decide on one component that they can add which would make them eat it. You will be surprised at the combinations that they might have, but let them experiment, let them learn. You would be still teaching them valuable kitchen lessons, and even if they did not like at first, they will be getting there eventually. Just don’t make a big deal of it!
Lastly, be patient: They will agonizingly slow, and they will put the blender on without the lid, they will throw things around, and yes, you will be cleaning flour off their hair for the next few days at least, but they will learn to clean, and to be fast and to figure out smarter ways to cook. Just remember to let them try on their own. Just always keep some extra time in hand when planning to cook with your kids.
Here are some easy recipes that you can start off with your kids:
From dosas to super smoothies to various kinds of egg dishes, cook with your kids and teach them the importance of eating proper breakfast before starting the day.
Salads and more
Want them to do more than just breakfast recipes? Get them involved in making your main courses. They might take hours to peel a potato or squeeze everything onto themselves, but trust me, you will be a big lump of mush when you eat what they made!
Now, this would be their favorite – I mean which kid would love dipping their hands in chocolate and be licking them off! You can go crazy and stir up anything from cookies, cakes to even cupcakes, just make sure that they enjoy every second of it.
Whether 3 or 13, involve your children more because cooking teaches them
- Math skills, from fractions to additions to measuring for recipes, everything.
- They are more likely to eat what they cooked or made.
- They are more likely to learn about different cultures.
- Their curiosity about food grows, giving you as their parents an opportunity to talk about nutrients.
- They are super-confident for while cooking they learn to be safe and keep things clean and in order.
- They learn to appreciate to family more.
So this weekend, set some time apart for your kids and get into the kitchen. Ask your kids to help you select an easy recipe that you both can make together and take them shopping. From there, just let your heads and hearts (and tiny little hands) take over!