As parents, we strive to ensure that what our children eat is as good and healthy as we can guarantee it to be. While we can’t always be there to ensure they follow our guidance as they get older, we can try to get them off to the best start in life, health-wise. However, another important factor of providing a healthier lifestyle is that of encouraging our children to get involved in the food prepping and making process from scratch.
This subject seems to receive less media attention, as opposed to ensuring our children get their daily dose of vitamins and nutrients, but I assure you, it is just as important. The chances are that if a child is more involved in the fun aspect of cooking and making food decisions, the more likely they are to enjoy many types of food in the future. This is predominately all to do with the care, time and attention which they have put into their meal, and they will cherish it even more so when it comes to dishing up their very own personally created food!
Though it’s never practical to involve your children in every single meal-making process, it is possible to achieve some fantastic results with them by directly working together as a family, maybe one or two nights a week, to see a marked improvement in your child’s attitude towards the subject of food. Here are a few tips to get your family cooking together and thus eating together in a more stimulating atmosphere.
Provide a Children Friendly Kitchen Kit
Many parents will, rightly so, be concerned about the various tools and appliances that the kitchen contains, which present harm to the younger family members. Yet, if you prepare a child’s kitchen kit beforehand, and ensure they get to use it every time you have a cooking session together, you immediately eliminate this threat.
Bowls: Look for big plastic mixing bowls with grips on the bases. If they are clear, better still, as children can see the ingredients merging together as they work.
Pots and Pans: Select those choices with rubber or, even better, silicone handles, so they don’t get hot. Smaller sized pots and pans allow ease of lifting and movement for smaller hands.
Knives: Chose knives that are small enough for children to hold safely with easy to grip handles. Also, note that sharp blades are better to use as they are more efficient and require less pressure when using, compared to blunt knives.
Bakeware: Nonstick bakeware is more practical for younger ones, as they release items from the oven much quicker when transferring to the cooling rack.
Basically, remind the younger children of the kitchen rules briefly before starting a cooking session each time, and offer as much supervision as you feel is necessary to keep them safe as they perform specific activities. You yourself are the best judge of how much and how little supervision your children will need in a kitchen environment.
Go for A Different Occasion Each Time
Children love variety and nowhere is this more evident than in their food choices. It is, therefore, a great time when cooking with children to introduce them to as many different concepts, styles and cultures of food as you can. If food is presented in a fun way, they are more likely to associate this feeling with it each time they eat a particular meal.
Why not have a themed meal once a week whereby you get to decorate the table to suit the country of origin or the specific type of food selection? For example, Italian nights could mean pizza, spaghetti bolognese, and a green red and white Italian theme. British nights could be homemade fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, or a sushi event could be held with all sat cross-legged on the floor and even dressed to match the night! Better still, add the music and a little light entertainment, that relates to the food’s country of origin, to make it that even more authentic!
Have a Taster Session Once a Month
We are forever telling our younger generation to sit and eat correctly when at the dining table, using a knife and fork. But, sometimes the fun of trying and sampling new dishes can get lost during this ritual, which is a massive shame as half of the fun of food is feeling and playing with its structure and not being afraid to experiment with it.
Why not hold a dedicated tasting session where the family can choose from a buffet style selection of miniature sized food and enjoy the textures and sensations of food, as well as the varying tastes? Both children and indeed adults will have a great time experimenting with new foods when introduced in this way, which ultimately assures that they will be more open to trying them again afterward when incorporated into regular family meals.