Getting Kids Cooking
Children are naturally curious about cooking and where their food comes from. You can put that curiosity to good use by including them in the process of purchasing, preparing, and serving food. When children are involved in these activities, they are much more likely to try new foods and develop new tastes. Inviting children to help you make the family meal is a great way to encourage them to also think about nutrition and healthy eating. Even very young children can safely wash vegetables, tear lettuce, stir batter, roll out dough, and so forth.
Here are some ideas to help kids get started:
Make a basic dish that your child enjoys, such as oatmeal, and gather a few ingredients that you can mix in, such as fruits, nuts, and spices. Then, work together to make very small batches of different flavor combinations. Taste each one and rank them from favorite to least favorite, and compare your preferences.
As your child’s dexterity improves, teach him or her all the steps to make one or more favorite dishes such as a salad, bean burrito, or fruit smoothie. Many children delight in mastering a recipe or two. You might encourage them to write them down in a notebook.
If it takes more time than you can spare to include your small children in regular meal preparations, you may want to have special times set aside for cooking together—for example, on occasional Sunday afternoons. You could use this time to make a large casserole or soup that can be eaten throughout the week or frozen for later use.