Kids are much more likely to eat a something they had a hand in creating, so it might be worthwhile to get your little ones in the kitchen to help cook. Sure it may take a little longer, but it is a great way to have some fun bonding time with your kids- plus you can also teach them the value of the post-cooking kitchen clean up. The benefits surpass the meal, as cooking with your kids serves of up a plate of fun with a side order of added benefits.
Starting with preschool age, cooking can help kids with basic math and language skills while building the foundation for lifelong healthy eating habits. It is important for you the parent to keep healthy expectations in mind, and a willingness to be flexible so that your culinary exploration will be something you both enjoy. Here are a few ways cooking with your kids can be beneficial:
- Encourage an Adventurous Eater: Picky eating can start around preschool age so getting your child to help you prepare meals will give them greater incentive to try new foods, with a greater chance of him eating something than if it was just plopped on his plate. Get your child to taste new ingredients while cooking and talk about what they like as well as how healthy foods help a body grow strong.
- Boost Confidence: Little ones love to show off their work, and cooking can provide a great opportunity to garner a sense of accomplishment. Give them a little praise for their kitchen skills and assistance even on little tasks like tearing the lettuce.
- Helps Kids Explore their Senses: Little ones are sensory learners, and the kitchen provides plenty of opportunity. Have them listen to the whirl of the food processor or blender, smell the fresh herbs, name the colors of the foods going into the meal, feel the warmth of the food out of the oven, and of course tasting their final creation.
- Build Basic Skills: Have her hone some basic math by counting eggs for the recipe or filling up a measuring cup. Map out and have her count which cooking steps come first, second, and third. Reading a recipe together can provide the opportunity to teach her some new words while sharpening her listening skills.
Keep the kitchen tasks for your child age appropriate and the recipes simple, they may lose attention pretty quickly so don’t be offended. Tasks like stirring, mixing, mashing or beating; tearing lettuce, adding ingredients, sprinkling toppings, or assembling the final dish are all great for 3-5 years olds. As they get older, they can handle greater cooking challenges like juicing a lemon for example. Spending time in the kitchen with your kids can encourage healthy eating habits that last a lifetime in addition to lasting memories for you both.
Note: A child should be supervised at all times when in the kitchen for safety reasons.