An amazing way to get your kids to eat better is to invite them into the kitchen with you to cook together. Cooking with your children isn’t only fun and exciting, it creates a unique experience where you can foster a love of healthy foods. It is here where you can teaching life skills that he or she can use throughout adulthood.
There are numerous reasons to get cooking with your kids. These include building stronger bonds, helping kids experience new foods and creating a good relationship between your child and the food they eat.
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- Cooking with Kids: Creative Ideas to Get Your Kids in the Kitchen
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- Why You Should Cook With Your Kids And Change Mealtime Locations
Building Stronger Bonds
Cooking with your kids can create stronger bonds between you and your kids. Kids are more likely to open up while cooking; talking about school, their day and how they feel.
Not only that, a survey conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that children who cook regularly and have mealtime with their family are less likely to abuse substances (1).
Isn’t that awesome!
Cooking creates valuable time for you to talk to your child about important topics. Kids will generally be less guarded while cooking and more open, so you can talk about more personal, hard-pressed topics such as their weight, if you need to. Check our our article on how best to talk to kids about their weight for more information.
Not only that, cooking with food doesn’t always have to be serious, check out our video Spiralizing Out of Control [How to use the vegetable spiralizer]; where food making is fun making!
Helping Kids Experience Foods
When you and your child start cooking, your kid will have more time with the foods he or she normally wouldn’t eat at the dinner table. He will get more exposure to those Brussels Sprouts. While cutting up a pepper or tomato, your child is touching the food, engaging with it and smelling it. All of these exposure points with foods helps children get more comfortable with eating a larger variety of foods. Yes, cooking with kids helps to reduce picky eating!
Kids may need 30 exposures of food before they try that food. And then maybe another twenty more before a child learns to enjoy eating that food. So just by cooking the meal you’ll be eating, you’re adding an extra exposure. Think of this as conditioning. You are slowly getting your child comfortable with a new food, so it’s not longer new and scary.
Not to mention, you may catch him snacking on foods he wouldn’t normally touch when he is cooking.
Relationship Between Food and Your Child
Your child will learn what goes into the dinner by cooking a meal along side you. As I’ve said, he’ll have more exposure to the food he eats one ingredient at a time. Kid’s who cook regularly will have a better relationship with food and are able better able to gauge what types of foods are healthy to eat and what foods are not (2).
Children who cook with their parent’s regularly are more likely to have healthier eating habits when they are adults; now since one-third of kids are overweight and two-thirds of adults are overweight, cooking is the perfect place to start at creating these positives outcomes (2).
You are teaching your kids a life-skill that will help them create better meals for themselves as young adults and with their future families.
Keep the food education going with our top picks for Cookbooks for Kids.
Take Cooking Classes Together
A great way to introduce cooking to your child is through these interactive classes from Kitchen Stewardship; these will show you how to get started and how to cook with your kids.
These classes are encouraging and inspiring. In these classes, your child will learn everything from how to cook healthy, how to prep meals and kitchen safety.
But, let’s hear the Kitchen Steward, Katie Kimball, breaks it down for you (3):
For the Complete Course, Here is the Curriculum
You teach your kids to make toast…I’ll teach them everything else.
The Kids Cook Real Food course curriculum is divided into 3 modules: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
There are recommended ages for each one (2-5 years, 6-7 years, ages 8 and up), but they are very flexible depending on your child’s personality, small motor control and current cooking skill level.
- For example, if your 9-year-old has zero experience in the kitchen, he might need some of the beginner lessons and will definitely need the intermediate module before he can move on with the advanced skills.
- If your 4-year-old has an intense interest in cooking, is great at following directions and trustworthy, she might be able to move on to many of the intermediate lessons.
- And if you’ve got a 14-year-old who needs to be able to cook his or her way out of a cardboard box, there’s no shame in taking both intermediate and advanced lessons at that age! (Many adults may pick up a new skill or two, in fact!)
Here are the skills taught at each level, although I’ve listed them out of order within the module, since the organization is part of the beauty of the course.
Each module (beginner, intermediate, advanced) builds on the next, and each day’s lesson coordinates such that all the age groups work together to create something good to eat.
(If you only have one age group, it still works out – the parent can finish the tasks if working with a small child, and an older child should already have all the skills to complete the easier steps each day.)
Test the Waters and Sign-up for the Free Course
Kids Cook Real Food is offering a free 3-part lesson on knife safety for kids. Watch the three lessons with your kids or let your kids watch them on their own. Then you can practice the techniques together. I’ve watched all these videos on my own and then with my twins. I just love them! I want my kids to go to college knowing how to make good quality food versus sustaining themselves on pizza and wings.
It’s a limited time offer from Kids Cook, so be sure to check out the free classes now.
- Carrying glass dishes to serve
- Peeling vegetables
- Measuring ingredients
- Making guacamole
- Peeling hard-boiled eggs
- Making rolls
- Slicing with a dull knife
- Soaking dry beans
- Making a salad
- Stovetop safety
- Flipping pancakes
- Steaming vegetables
- Introduction to sharp knives
- Setting the table
- Making homemade salad dressings
- Browning ground beef
- Rolling dough
- Hard-boiling eggs
- Mixing simple recipes
- Cracking eggs
- Cooking rice
- Sautéing vegetables
- Using a food processor
- Making a full meal start to finish
- Sharp knife skills, levels 1-4
- Crushing garlic
- Oven safety
- Cooking eggs
- Cooking fish
- Cooking dry beans
- Separating eggs
- Making homemade mayo
- Washing the table
Don’t pass up this opportunity!
It’s a bonding experience between you, your child and the food you make! So get cooking today!
Additional Information and Resources:
WebMD: Cooking With Kids
Huffington Post: 6 Reasons Why You Should Cook With Your Kids
Kick Starter: Kids Cook Real Food: an eCourse from Kitchen Stewardship