For many parents, cooking is a chore; something that has to be done every day to feed your family whether you feel like it or not. You know your kids have to eat, but it can be difficult after a long day to force yourself to cook meals from scratch, even if you want to.
There are many reasons to teach your kids how to cook from a young age, but getting them excited to learn can be difficult. Read on to learn not only why you should get your kids excited about cooking, but how to do it while having fun.
Why Teach Kids to Cook?
It’s an Invaluable Skill
Everyone must eat; that’s a fact of life. Cooking, however, is not necessary, but there are many benefits. For one thing, it’s much less expensive to cook from scratch than it is to eat out or buy prepared foods. For another, teaching kids how to cook when they are young is a skill that carries well into adulthood. It doesn’t have to be gourmet to be useful or healthy; basic skills will carry your children far.
It’s Much Healthier Than the Alternative
There’s a lot to be said about the modern diet and what it does to our overall health and wellbeing. Many people find cooking to be a chore, and with the variety of prepared foods, fast food restaurants, and other convenience foods, it can be easy to lose track of your health. Teaching kids to cook healthy, whole foods at a young age will teach them the value of good food, and help ensure they build good habits and eat good foods for life.
It Opens Their Eyes to New Foods
Kids are notoriously picky eaters, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you feed your kids only chicken nuggets and mac and cheese, then that’s what they’ll get used to eating. But if you expose them to other foods, they’ll learn to appreciate these foods in the future.
It Brings Out Creativity
Cooking is a creative hobby, and it can be fun to experiment in the kitchen and come up with new recipes, dishes, and meals. Kids are naturally experimental, but it can be easy to lose that creative streak as they get older. By teaching them to be creative in the one thing that they must do every day — eating — you are keeping their mind sharp and their creativity at peak for years into adulthood.
How to Get Your Kids Excited About Cooking?
Start Them Young
Like most things you want to teach your kids, the earlier you can get them started, the better. While obviously you’re not going to let a toddler handle a knife or cook at the stove, there are plenty of tasks that aren’t dangerous that will get them excited about food. Give your kindergartener a bowl of green beans to snap, or let your kids dump flour into the mixing bowl when making bread. Kids from almost any age can help measure, rinse, stir, or clean.
When you first teach your kids to cook, you can overwhelm them with complicated recipes and techniques. Instead, try easy snacks and recipes that require very little, but turn out impressive. Simple dips, fruit salads, or easy pizzas are all things that won’t burn out your kids, and that they’ll love to eat when the time comes.
The younger your kids are, the shorter their attention span, so you need to make sure that whatever you’re doing is hands on, and produces results fast. It will make them extra excited to get in the kitchen next time, especially if they end up getting a treat at the end.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Mess
Kids love messes, and while you may not like cleaning up, it can make cooking all the more fun. Let kids roll out pie dough, stir batters, and smash tomatoes with their hands. Just make sure you teach them how to clean up after each session as well.
Get Kids Their Own Gear
If mommy or daddy is a professional chef, then your kids may look up to you when you
put on your crisp white jacket and hat to go to work. Who says you have to limit it to work? Chef Works sells a variety of gear for kids, so get your kids their own aprons or jackets. It will teach them about cleanliness, and maybe even encourage them to follow in your footsteps as a professional some day.
Let Them Be in Charge
After a few lessons in the kitchen, let kids that are old enough take over the planning, prep, and even some of the cooking. Kids will be excited to know that a meal that they came up with on their own is eaten and enjoyed by the family. Of course, you can help them if they request it, or aren’t old enough to do everything on their own, but it’s an amazing sense of accomplishment when they do as much as they can on their own.
Take Them Shopping
Instead of dreading taking your kids shopping, embrace it. Walk them through the produce department, and talk about different fruits and vegetables and their nutritional benefits. Let them touch, smell, and feel the difference between different types of fruits, and teach them about different meats and cheeses. Skip the junk food aisles to limit begging, but instead teach your kids the value of real, wholesome food.
Farmer’s markets are another great way to get kids excited about different foods, and you’ll have a blast watching your kids’ excitement as they learn how different foods are grown and produced. It can teach them to appreciate good quality food that fuels their bodies instead of just satiating them.
Make it a Family Thing
Parenting experts will tell you that eating a meal around the dinner table is important, and it is. You can make it even more special by making the cooking process a family affair as well. Assign each family member a task based on age and ability, and get in the habit of coming together each night to make a meal that is worthy of the best restaurants. You’ll accomplish two things by doing this: First, you’ll be building good habits and spending quality time with your family, and second, you’ll take the pressure off of one person to do all of the work of meal planning and prep. It’s truly a win-win for everyone involved, and once you start doing it, you’ll wish that your parents had done it with you.
If you enjoy cooking, then there is no reason why your kids shouldn’t, but you have to get them involved before they can do so. By starting them young, taking it slow and making it a fun time for the whole family, you are instilling valuable skills and life long lessons into your kids that they may not be able to get later in life. Remember, eating is a must, so rather than have your kids rely on convenience and other unhealthy foods, teach them the value of cooking at young age. Neither you, nor your kids, will regret it.