By Kylee Harris
More often than not, parents complain that their children are picky eaters. While some adjust their menu to suit their kids’ preferences, others encourage them to try new food and let them help in the kitchen. A recent survey shows that 62% of Australian parents have food-related interactions with their children at home, and these interactions usually happen while they’re making meals together. By bringing them into the kitchen, your little ones can help in menu planning, cooking, and bringing up conversations around food. Moreover, it’s a good opportunity for kids to learn about using organic ingredients and being more conscious of their health. Here are some tips to get your children engaged in cooking.
By bringing them into the kitchen, your little ones can help in menu planning, cooking, and bringing up conversations around food.
Make a Family Recipe Together
For those looking for an extra set of hands, the kids can help to prepare the recipes. Whether it’s lunch or dinner, this is a chance to ensure that their hands get busy, with a little bit of adult supervision, of course. The best recipes should combine ingredients that expand their palate. If your kids must stick to a specific diet, they should understand what makes up a specialised eating plan, such as gluten-free, vegan, lactose-free, or vegetarian diets. Also, your children can look through cookbooks and choose a few recipes to make for dinner. After successful preparation, praising the kids will bring an immediate sense of pride.
Assign Age-Appropriate Cooking Tasks
If your children can read instructions, they can measure ingredients. So, let them weigh flour, scoop up ingredients, or fill up cups or measuring spoons with chopped up veggies or herbs. Allowing them to do so will make them feel more confident in the kitchen, since this indicates that they can be trusted to understand the steps of making a meal. Additionally, your kids should be taught different cooking techniques.
For instance, instead of using the oven to make a pizza, they can try to make pizza in a smoker. Doing so imparts a rich and smoky flavor to the pizza dough. However, parents should ensure that the smoker is at the right temperature. Other kitchen activities that you can let your child do include finding ingredients in the fridge, smelling herbs, and the like. However, if your kids are too young to do such tasks, they can be encouraged to do other things like stirring, pressing a button, and rinsing vegetables. Another essential life skill is to enlist kids to help with cleanup.
If your children can read instructions, they can measure ingredients. So, let them weigh flour, scoop up ingredients, or fill up cups or measuring spoons with chopped up veggies or herbs.
Mixing and Smashing
Parents can ask the little ones to mix salads – basic vegetable or fruit salads can be a good start. Other than that, your kids can pick ingredients and add them to a portion of the dough. This is an opportunity for parents to encourage creativity as they learn about different foods in the kitchen. After all, mixing and smashing improve eye coordination. Although things can get messy, it’s lots of fun, and the more fun your children have, the more likely they are to help you in the kitchen. Just like adults, kids want to learn new things. Being in the kitchen encourages them to understand basic skills and an essential life lesson – patience. Generally speaking, parents should give kids basic tasks to fine-tune their motor skills. They should focus on things that allow them to smash, grab, and mix. After all, cooking with kids is the perfect way to bond and instil confidence. So grab an apron for you and your little one, and have fun spending quality time in the kitchen.
Kylee Harris is an educator who has taught in elementary schools in Singapore and Hong Kong for 5 years. She lives in Florida and continues to teach life skills to young adults in her community.