Cooking for the family can be difficult at times and leave you wanting an assistant in the kitchen. Although it may not save you much time, there is a sous chef you can have start right away, with big benefits: your kids.
Here are five reasons to put your kids to work in the kitchen.
Help picky eaters
Being a picky eater is like a prerequisite to being a kid. If every mealtime is a battle with your kids, letting them help you in the kitchen could help. When kids are part of the cooking process, they may be more likely to try new foods.
Related link: Cooking with Kids is a Recipe For Success
You can even go beyond the kitchen and let your kids help you plant a garden or pick groceries at the store. The more involved kids get in meal planning and preparation, the more likely they are to try some of it when the meal is done.
Following and altering a recipe may seem second nature to you now, but it is harder than you think. Kids can gain a lot from using recipes to cook, like reading comprehension and math skills. Recipes often use fractions, like 3/4 cup of flour and 1/3 cup of sugar. Trying to make a double recipe can be a great chance for a practical math exercise.
Recipes also involve reading and understanding specific steps. So besides being delicious, baking a cake could also be just the study help your grade-schooler needs.
Make healthy choices
You can encourage your kids, big and little, to eat more healthy foods by getting them involved in meal prep. When your kids help you shop for and prepare the food, you can let them pick which healthy food they want to make and teach them ways to make delicious, healthy meals.
Cooking together is also a great opportunity to talk to your kids about nutrition and making good food choices.
“The best way to eat healthy meals is to make them from scratch at home,” says nutritionist Emily Woll. “Preparing dinner with your kids and including lots of fruits and vegetables will help them make healthy choices themselves.”
Help toddlers use senses
Little children learn by playing, touching, tasting and manipulating the world around them. Cooking is a great way for kids to use all these senses at once. Let them dig into whatever you’re making, rolling cookie dough, kneading bread, listening to the mixer, and smelling and tasting the finished product.
Encourage family dinner
Having dinner together as a family has many benefits, including spending time with your kids and helping them to eat healthy meals. As your kids get older, the opportunities to eat dinner together may dwindle due to school and sports obligations.
Have your teens cook dinner with you, and they may be more likely to stick around for the meal. As your kids get older, you can even give them weekly cooking responsibilities for family dinner. They can learn to cook for a group and make their own meals before they head off on their own.
Convincing kids to eat healthy food can be difficult, especially when they are often surrounded by tantalizing fast food and vending machine treats.
Prepare them for the future by cooking with your kids, helping them develop healthy eating habits and skills that will last them a lifetime.
This article was originally published by the Daily Herald.