How to involve kids in cooking?

real food hero May 01, 2021

We can all find so many arguments AGAINST involving kids in cooking:

👉🏻 who has the time to start cooking 2 hours ahead of dinner?
👉🏻 who has patience for it (could they BE any slower at peeling those potatoes?)
👉🏻 who’s supposed to clean up after the mess?
👉🏻 are those hands as clean as they say they are (I doubt it!)
👉🏻 this was MY time to just spend time with ME.

I get it. Because all the above👆🏻

But: let’s look at the benefits of involving them:

💛 Picky kids become less picky when engaging in cooking
💛 Gives them a sense of independence and confidence
💛 They learn important skills, not only cooking skills, but also basic math concepts and language skills
💛 They learn how to structure a task
💛 Cooking teaches them discipline
💛 They learn where food comes from
💛 It stimulates their creativity
💛 They’re more likely to get a healthy lifestyle
💛 You’ll get quality time together

(I know the last point may be a stretch, if you don’t naturally enjoy it, but engaging in a joint activity can often lead to deeper conversations (as opposed to the head-on “Tell me everything about your day” questions;)).

But how to do it and who can join?

👩🏻‍🍳 Set realistic expectations: it will be messy and noisy, it’ll take time and patience, and it might not even be the help you were hoping for.
👩🏻‍🍳 Even young kids can help, sitting on the kitchen counter or standing on a step stool.
👩🏻‍🍳 Find age-appropriate tasks for them: little ones can unwrap groceries, put fruits and veggies into bowls.
👩🏻‍🍳 For the older ones, engage them in all the phases: look through cookbooks together, have them pick out a recipe, take them grocery shopping, etc.
👩🏻‍🍳 Plan ahead: Decide: what day(s) of the week you are ready to engage them, if all your kids can help or just one at a time, what tasks they will be able to help with, etc.
👩🏻‍🍳 Ask for their opinion and let them be your food critic: Does it need more salt, are the potatoes cooked enough, is this too spicy?
👩🏻‍🍳 Acknowledge them for their effort – be specific about how they contributed, so it’s not just empty praise.


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