Cooking is a fun family activity that encourages learning and will make eating dinner together all the more satisfying. Family mealtime is an experience that the whole family can be involved in and should be celebrated as an activity instead of a chore. Here are a few creative tips to get your kids involved.
Create a Menu
Early on, parents realize the power of choice when it comes to establishing healthy habits. For instance, allowing children to pick out their own toothbrush motivates them to keep their teeth clean. The same is true when it comes to eating. Involve your children in the planning of meals by allowing them to select the dinner menu one night each week. Make a list of the ingredients, shop together, and then prepare the meal as a team. Spending time in the kitchen together and being a positive role model for youngsters increases the likelihood that their love of family mealtime will stick with them into adulthood.
Cook as a Team
Just as enjoyable as it is to share a delicious meal with others, it is equally enjoyable to prepare one. Kids love to be where the action is… so near dinnertime, involve the young ones in the kitchen. For instance, toddlers can help tear the ends off of green beans while older children can assist in peeling potatoes or measuring the brown rice. By giving them age-appropriate tasks, not only will they relish their new culinary responsibilities, but be more apt to delight in the yummy creations of their efforts.
Another great way to instill healthy values is to take your kids shopping with you. Allow each child to pick out one or two fruits and vegetables that they want to eat. Encourage them to try new items, like butternut squash, avocados, pomelos or jicama. Plus, allowing children to see food in its raw and natural state, as opposed to coming from a box or package, connects the child to the food they are eating, encouraging healthier habits.