Parents want to know how they can get their children to be more adventurous eaters. While there is no simple answer, one of the best ways to achieve this is to get kids in the kitchen. After all, research shows that when children participate in preparing food they are more likely to try it.
Here are some tips and simple recipes for including your children in the kitchen without creating more work and mess for you.
Appeal to your children’s interests to get them excited. Cooking is a way to teach and explore math, science, reading and art. If your child is learning to read, have him read the ingredients and instructions. If your child loves math, quiz him about addition and fractions using the measuring cups. If art is a favorite hobby, have your child plate the dish in a visually creative way.
Get them their own gear to empower them. A child safe knife and a child size apron can go a long way. One of my favorite brands for kid-friendly kitchen tools is Curious Chef. They make a great child safe knife set.
Set a schedule to create consistency. Cooking with your kids once will not always spark enough curiosity to change behavior. The more the better, but whether it is weekly or monthly, set dates that your child can cook with you, grandma, or even the babysitter.
Focus more on the food prep than the final product. Emphasize the fun in purchasing and making the food rather than tasting the food. Allow your children to help prepare the recipe without any stress that they will be pressured to eat it. You don’t want them to feel that there is a motive for the activity because that may deter them from wanting to participate again.
Choose kid-friendly recipes to make cooking easier for you and the kids. Choose simple recipes with few ingredients and under 6 steps. Visit CHOPCHOP online for kid-friendly recipes.
Meal plan with your kids as a way to engage them in the process and stay organized. Have them help write out the grocery list or fill out a blank menu. You can also set a day for your child to pick a new recipe of the week for the family to try.
Give your little ones simple, reduced- mess tasks throughout the cooking process:
- Tearing lettuce and spinach with fingers
- Smashing soft foods in sealable bags – place fruits like bananas and avocados (pancakes, guacamole recipe) in a sealed bag and allow kids to mash it up with their hands and fists.
- Pouring liquids
- Stirring batter
- Picking herbs off stems
- Washing produce
- Greasing the baking pan
- Getting ingredients from pantry or fridge
- Rolling citrus: (before slicing a lemon or lime to juice it) have children roll the fruit on the counter using their palms to soften the rind and better release the juice
Check back each week in July for new recipes to cook with your kiddos in the kitchen.