Cooking your own meals is a great way to choose nutritious ingredients while enjoying extra tasty dishes. And by encouraging your kids to choose good foods early on, you can help them establish healthy eating habits that will follow them into adulthood. The best part? Getting the young ones in your family involved in preparing snacks and meals can help turn a daily necessity into a fun family ritual.
Making the most of their natural curiosity
Children are curious by nature. They want to know what's happening on those kitchen counters. So, why not put that curiosity to good use? Being able to say, “I made this!” is a source of pride for them and that helps to make meal-time extra special.
Children can be kitchen helpers at any age
To make the experience safe and enjoyable for everyone, give your children tasks that correspond to their age and abilities. Here are some ideas of how your kids can help:
- Decorating and enhancing: Even a two- or three-year-old can help by sprinkling cheese on homemade pizzas or fresh berries on top of plain yogurt.
- Stirring and mixing: Young children love seeing the transformation that can result from simple tasks like whipping eggs and milk into an omelette, or mixing up dry and wet ingredients for a batch of homemade muffins. Give it a whirl!
- Grating and cutting: These require guidance and instruction, but will reward older children with a sense of accomplishment.
- Pan-frying and baking: Once your children know their way around a stove, they'll enjoy making pancakes or baking pizza with their own choice of toppings.
Looking at the long term
Of course, making food with children requires supervision and a bit more time than doing it by yourself, but it’s also quality time that you’re spending as family. Whether you cook together once a week or once a month, it’s a rewarding experience for everyone.
Plus, a little bit more mess is worth the long-term benefits that cooking as a family will bring to your kids, from making healthier food choices to learning important life skills. Who knows, one day in the not-too-distant-future, your kids might just cook up an entire meal for you.