Getting kids involved in the kitchen is so important for developing healthy eating habits. Fact – kids who contribute to meal preparation are so much more likely to eat what is presented and be less fussy overall.
This doesn’t mean your toddler or child needs to cook an entire meal. It may be that they only help for a few minutes, but any involvement is a step towards a lifelong appreciation of food. Remember to always make sure children’s involvement with food is fun, not a chore. You want to create a positive relationship with each other and food.
Here are a few tips to get you thinking about their involvement in the cooking process…
- If you are planning to cook or bake together, make sure you have enough time and are in the right frame of mind to do so. Kids love cooking and eating their achievement. Older children also improve their literacy and numeracy and can learn allot about measuring, fractions and most importantly how a meal or dish comes together to end up on their plate.
- Mixing, whisking and stirring (whatever’s safe for the child and the food). There’s no point giving a young child a job they’re not quite ready for, or one that will stress either of you.
- I make simple dressings (olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice) in a small jar which the kids love shaking to combine. Let them pour it over the salad or steamed vegetables and toss it too.
- Cracking eggs is good for older children – the worst case scenario is that you’ll have to fish out a bit of shell.
- Peeling or grating vegetables or fruits (with care). My daughter is now old enough to even top and tale the beans. Both my kids love shelling peas, though few make it to the dinner plate.
- Picking leaves. This is a great job for even a very young child (and a great help to parents). I personally hate picking herb leaves like mint off the woody stems. But kids often love it.
- Spinning the salad spinner is a real winner in our house (caution it doesn’t spin right off the bench)!
- Scrubbing spuds or washing vegetables.
- Pressing buttons on the food processor (supervised of course).
- Licking the cake mix bowl! Deliciousness in life is essential, and let’s face it, there’s nothing better!
For more healthy inspiration and free recipes, visit www.wellnourished.com.au.