Cooking with Kids: Why You Should Have Your Child Help Cook Dinner

family nutrition

When you were growing up did you help out in the kitchen? Did you help dad peel the potatoes or mom bake cookies? You may not have realized it then but that time you spent in the kitchen taught you valuable lessons and food skills you will have for life. 

Although helping out in the kitchen might have been a no-brainer when you were a kid, nowadays kids are always on the go, watching tv, or just always seem too busy to lend a hand.   

Despite their busy lives, having kids help out in the kitchen is so important and teaches them critical food skills and the importance of healthy eating. What other benefits are there to having your child involved in preparing meals? 

Benefits of Learning to Prepare Meals Early On

By having the kids help out at meal time they will:

  • Be more willing to try new foods 
  • Spend quality time with their family 
  • Learn and build lifelong food skills 
  • Foster healthy eating habits 
  • Discover family traditions 
  • And so much more! 

Wow! Those are a lot of important skills you can help your kids learn, but how do you actually get your kids to get into the kitchen? Especially if this is totally new for your family it is okay to start small and slowly get the kids involved. Here are some ways to get started.

Planning Meals

This can be an easy place to start and can help get the kiddos excited to actually get into the kitchen. Next time you are planning out your meals, sit down with your kids and discuss with them. Kids can help with meal planning by helping choose a new recipe to try, browsing through the flyer to find sales, looking through the cupboards to find ingredients you already have, or even making a grocery list. 

Grocery Shopping 

Another way to get the kids involved before you even get into the kitchen is bringing them to the grocery store. When in the grocery store kids can help out by searching to find the best deal on an item and making sure you get everything on your list. Have kids explore some new foods by allowing them to pick out one new fruit or vegetable to try or by letting them pick out a new whole grain to experiment with. 

Preparing Meals

Now that you have your meals planned and the supplies you need, it is time to bring it all together in the kitchen! If your kids are new to cooking, start by giving them smaller tasks such as gathering all of the ingredients, washing fruits and veggies, or measuring out ingredients. Once their confidence and skills grow you can give them more tasks such as peeling fruits and vegetables, cooking items on the stove, or even following a full recipe! Of course, it is important to ensure kids are given age-appropriate tasks and are able to stay safe. 

Final Tips

Don’t stress about it being perfect. There will be mess and mistakes will be made but this is how you learn! For recipes, inspiration, check out Canada’s Food Guide for tons of nutritious recipes which include tips on how to get the kids to help.  For even more BBC Goodfood or have created lists with plenty of recipe ideas to get you started. 

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