Getting Kids In The Kitchen
In the past 20-30 years, there has been a big shift not only in what we eat, but how we eat. We’ve seen childhood obesity rates skyrocket. Family dinners are being replaced by takeout meals and we are relying more on processed snack foods and microwave dinners. Children are becoming disconnected with how their food gets to their plate and family culinary traditions are being lost.
We need to make a change. Getting kids involved in cooking family meals weekly is one way to increase kid’s consumption of healthy foods. It’s an opportunity for families to share the lessons of meal preparation and nutritious eating and spend quality time together.
Why are Family Dinners Important?
Research shows that kids who have regular family dinners:
- experience a lower incidence of obesity
- get better grades in school and are less likely to try drugs or alcohol.
- eat more fruits and vegetables and feel less depressed as teens.
- Adolescents who participated in even one or two family meals per week were less likely to be overweight or obese in adulthood
Why Cook with Kids?
- Exposure to cooking from scratch helps kids develop a taste for fresh health ingredients.
- Cooking together offers the perfect opportunity to talk about nutrition and help kids understand the personal and environmental impact of their diets.
- Kids are more open to trying new foods they helped prepare
- It’s a time to share stories and talk about the day.
- Cooking is an invaluable life skill. Plus, kids can learn other skills like science, reading comprehension, fractions, measuring, and fine motor skills.
- Teaching cooking skills to kids boosts their self-confidence and allows them to take pride in the meal they created.
How to get started?
- Choose a night
- Get kids involved in choosing what you will make
- Get started on Saturday or Sunday to plan and go shopping
- Set an example and keep the phones and TV off at mealtime
Activities in the kitchen for different ages:
Ages 2-4: Squeezing lemons or limes, using a plastic juicer, washing produce in the sink, drying produce in a salad spinner; picking fresh herb leaves off stems, ripping them into small pieces; tearing up lettuce,
Ages 5-7: Using measuring spoons, peeling, grating and knife skills.
Ages 8-9: Using a pizza cutter and can opener, scooping batter into muffin cups, putting away leftovers
Ages 10-12: This age group can be independent with some easy recipes on the stove top with supervision.