Getting children involved in their meals can help develop healthy eating habits for a lifetime. And it’s fun, too! It’s never too early to get those good habits going. Getting the younger members of the family involved can help turn a daily chore into a shared experience.
To make the experience safe and enjoyable for everyone, adjust the tasks according to age and abilities:
• Decorate and enhance: Even a two- or three-year-old will be happy to put sprinkles on homemade cookies or fresh berries on top of plain yogurt or ice cream.
• Stir and mix: Young children always enjoy the transformation that results from whipping eggs and milk into an omelette, or mixing up dry and wet ingredients for a batch of homemade muffins.
• Cut to size: Grating cheese or cutting vegetables requires teaching safe methods, but will reward older children with a sense of accomplishment.
• Get cooking: Once your children can work their way around a stove, they’ll like making pancakes or baking pizza with their own choice of toppings.
Making food with children does require more supervision than doing it by yourself. Choose the right tasks to share so that cooking remains an enjoyable learning experience for everyone. Relax and try to keep things fun. A little bit more mess is worth the long-term pleasure cooking can bring. If your kids really get into it, who knows, they might just cook a whole meal for you, one day.
Children who cook become children who taste, and sometimes eat.
Involving children in the process of cooking — grating the mozzarella and plucking the herbs to add to a pizza, for example — greatly increases the chance that they’ll actually try the finished dish. They may even discover a new favourite. Cultivating a welcoming and open-minded approach to food can grow adults who approach life similarly. Arms open and mouth wide to new tastes, cultures and attitudes.
Cooking is a great way for the family to spend time together.
Families can get so busy that they lose touch, even while living in the same house! So why not take a Saturday afternoon and bake some cookies or a cake together and get some conversation going?
Teaching your children to cook may inspire a future career choice.
By taking the time to introduce your children to the kitchen, you may be helping them develop an interest in cooking that will become a lifelong passion. And who knows, you just might end up with a professional chef in the family!