Get your little ones interested in cooking and they’ll eat better – a more varied, healthy diet with fewer processed foods. But what can they do to help you in the kitchen? Obviously this depends on the age of your kids. My eldest is six, and my youngest is two and they all get involved in some way.
‘What do you want to eat?’
It might not be realistic to do this every day and I’m not suggesting you cook different meals for everyone in the house but something as simple as asking your children to choose a vegetable to include with dinner or giving them a choice of two meals and asking him which they would prefer you to cook would get them interested in the end result. If you have time you could take them shopping for the ingredients (with four kids this isn’t something that happens often in our house!).
Ask them to help
A few weeks ago I made a chilli. I hadn’t done it before and was worried the kids wouldn’t like it. I asked them all to taste it to check it wasn’t too spicy. Of course they all told me it was so I added some sugar (to counteract the spice) and they were all happy with their second taste. They all ate the chilli and I was inspired to get my minis involved in cooking more often.
Baking and pudding making is often an easier way of getting children involved than cooking a main meal. There are usually no sharp knives involved, recipes can be simple (I’ll be adding some to the blog over the next few weeks) and the results will be yummy! Try letting them:
- Measure out ingredients (this is a good way of getting them to recognise numbers while being creative)
- Mix ingredients
- Use shape cutters
- Use the microwave – open and close the doors, set the timer and hit the start button.
Grow your own
Seeing something grow from a seed and end up on your plate – what an amazing way to spark children’s interest. This year we’ve grown herbs on our kitchen window sill. My elder three each chose a herb (basil, coriander and thyme) and grew it in a pot that they’d decorated themselves. They would quite often pick leaves and add them to their meal. We also tried to grow some salad veg but didn’t have much success – slugs ate the cucumber plants and my youngest emptied the pot of tomato seeds all over the floor one sunny afternoon, and handed me the empty pot with a smile. We’ll try again next year.
I’m soon going to be asking my school aged kids to start peeling vegetables (using a peeler instead of a knife) and, as Will learns to read more, read ingredients and instructions out to me. I’m not brave enough yet to get them chopping food or using the oven, although from what I’ve read it’s possible for 5-6 year old to do this safely with supervision.