There are several reasons to engage kids in the kitchen, and they aren’t about the children helping you, but about you helping them. From self-sufficiency and self-belief to judgment and organization, from imagination and creativity to personal bonding and nutritional understanding, getting kids engaged in the kitchen and what they eat is beneficial to their cognitive, emotional, and even physical development. Here are some ideas for getting youngsters involved in the kitchen, as well as why it’s so vital.
Have The Right Expectations
Before beginning anything, it is critical to establish realistic expectations about what children can and cannot achieve at their age and degree of mental development. A toddler cannot do tasks that require fine motor function or have a lot of steps. They can, however, bring napkins to the table, pack lunches, or stir things (though expect them to spill a bit). Older children can accomplish more, but it’s always vital to set them up for success by giving them things they can handle and without becoming too concerned with any errors they make. Remember, this is a learning process, and we want learning to be enjoyable for children rather than frightening or anxiety-inducing. If you feel it is time you learned how to properly cook quinoa, or there was another skill you needed, why not learn it at the same time as your child?
Plan The Menu
You understand that dinner doesn’t appear out of nowhere, but children may not if all they know is that they are summoned to the table, and the meal is ready for them. If your children can help plan the food and make a shopping list, they will better understand how it all works.
Give youngsters a restricted number of alternatives. If you just ask, “What should we eat for supper this week?” you may get responses that are neither nutritious nor feasible. When youngsters are asked, “Should we eat burgers or spaghetti?” or “Would you like green beans or carrots?” they find it simpler to make a decision. Always provide alternatives that you are comfortable with so that when your child makes a decision, you can say it’s a good choice and help them feel good about their decision-making abilities. Allow each child to choose a dinner for the week to be involved in food planning and experience pride and ownership over the meal.
Take Them Shopping
The next stage in getting your children interested in cooking is to take them grocery shopping with you. That may seem like a recipe for a stressful event, but if you lay the basic rules before you go, your children will know what to anticipate and what is required of them. Go through the list with them and discuss that you can only get the things on the list (or let each choose one item that isn’t on the list). If kids are old enough to be left alone, split the list and send them out to get some of the goods. Otherwise, let them help you find the things as you move up and down the rows.
Talk with your children about the many fruits, vegetables, and other items you see as you stroll through the supermarket or farmers’ market. Explain where various foods originate from and why buying local and/or organic goods is essential. Allow them to see, smell, and touch them using their senses (and taste if there are free samples). Allow your youngster to choose a new fruit or vegetable that he has never tried before. You can even give a real-life economics lesson by explaining how much food costs, how to budget, and how to save money.