Don’t you ever wish you could have a personal chef? Well, you actually may already have one in your home—you just don’t know it yet. Your children are little chefs in the making. In fact, my two older daughters have separately started teaching themselves (with some help from my wife and I) to prepare meals and bake. With some initial encouragement and assistance from us, and LOTS of inspiration from social media sites like Instagram, they are learning the “tools of the trade” and becoming a bit more independent in the process while now cooking up a storm.
However, and understandably, many parents don’t see their children in as chefs or bakers or sous-chefs, especially when it comes to doing chores or tasks around the house. Sometimes it feels easier to do the task yourself than enlist the help of your children. However, parents are potentially missing out on ways to teach children about healthy eating habits and developing a life-long skill.
Note: this is a sponsored article.
My oldest daughter, for example, has become an incredibly heathy eater. She is a professional ballet dancer at San Francisco Ballet at the age of 17 and as part of her active daily routine, she takes pride in creating extremely healthy food to both give her energy and grow her ever-expanding palate. Initially, my wife crafted quite healthy meals but my daughter decided she wanted to be the one setting her own menu. She experimented and tried many new fruits, vegetables, spices and other items, crafting a variety of gourmet salads and meals that could be found at high-end restaurants. (Many of the photos in this article are her concoctions which can be also found on her Instagram account.)
Cooking a meal may feel like a checklist on your long list of daily tasks, but it’s an opportune setting to teach a variety of skills to children:
Expand their appreciation for different types of food: One of the biggest benefits is expanding their food palette by creating a greater appreciation for different types of foods. Each family has its share of picky eaters, but parents can help keep that attitude at bay by getting children involved in preparing a meal.
My oldest is extremely picky about what she eats. She limits consumption of fats but also elects to use coconut oil or avocado oil when she sautés her creations.
Strengthen bonds and create memories: Another benefit of teaching your children how to cook is that it nurtures relationships. The typical household is always in a rush to follow schedules and accomplish errands, so eating is often on the go or done in a hurry around the kitchen table. Getting children involved in preparing meals makes use of the food prep time to strengthen relationships.
Often now, my oldest will make extra food so that she can give my wife or me a sampling of her creations.
Teach healthy eating habits: Telling your children to eat healthy is one thing, but showing how to prepare healthy food is another and tend to make more of an impact. Made from scratch foods are known to contain more nutrients than fast food. Meal prep also provides a natural setting to discuss nutritious foods and healthy eating habits.
While I’m not one of the healthier eaters of the family (trust me, I like a good hamburger and fries from time to time), some of the healthy prep and resulting meals are starting to rub off on me. So it’s almost the reverse, instead of me pushing healthy eating to my kids, they are making me to rethink my food choices…occasionally (still like fries!).
Take academic concepts beyond the classroom: Preparing meals is a way to reinforce academic concepts your children learned in school, such as counting, fractions, weighing, and more. When your children are following a recipe, they are also strengthening their reading skills.
Funny thing is, because of social media, specifically Instagram, my daughters are starting to see the magic of cooking, baking and preparing meals. My middle daughter loves baking. It’s a bit more scientific as you deal with precise measurements. I recently started experimenting with baking which is like chemistry as putting in too much or not enough of one thing or another will cause bread to not rise or the color of cake to be off.
Learn a life-long, self-sufficient skill: Here’s a familiar scenario—your child opens the refrigerator full of food and proclaims, “there’s nothing to eat!” Teaching your children how to make a meal broadens their perspective on cooking—that’s it’s more than about eating, but also about having the necessary skills to take care of yourself.
The “there’s nothing to eat” line has seemed to diminished in its commonality in our house. My wife and I now respond with “so make something” (which does required food and materials be stocked and at the ready.)
There are numerous benefits of teaching your children how to cook. However, that doesn’t make the process easier. Sometimes teaching your children can erupt in arguments and bickering. There are ways to make the cooking process more pleasant. Consider incorporating these tips when you teach your children how to cook.
Introduce Children to Cooking by Preparing Boxed Meals
My youngest daughter hasn’t quite yet gotten the cooking or baking bug. Granted, she CAN make a scrambled egg (all of my kids like their eggs slightly different – fried, egg whites only and scrambled). She has also acted as a sous-chef occasionally. But we may need to goose her along a bit.
Made-from-scratch can be a worthwhile endeavor but it might not always feasible from a time perspective. How many times has boxed macaroni and cheese saved your sanity after coming home from a long day and still needing to make dinner? Also, let’s admit that even though we know that we should spend the time to teach children how to cook, most of the time, you find yourself in a rush to get the cooking done so you could get the children to bed.
Boxed meals are an easy way to still get your children involved in cooking without the extra time of ingredient prep. A product like Just Cookie Dough made by HamptonCreek is remade cookie dough—all your little ones need to do is scoop out the dough into little balls and place them on the cooking sheet. Better yet, Just Cookie Dough is egg-free and plant-based, so you could eat it straight out of the tub—which is exactly what many people do.
Trust me, there is nothing better than licking the bowl of homemade cookies.
Select Recipes Appropriate to Your Child’s Age
You can introduce cooking skills to children as young as two years old. Two-year-old kids are able to rinse vegetables or fruits, stir, add ingredients to a mixing bowl, and sort the ingredients. Children that are between ages four and six can help with cracking eggs, cutting with a plastic or butter knife, or pushing the start and stop buttons on a food processor or other appliances. Children seven and older still need supervision when cooking, but they can operate a heat source like an oven or stove—again, they still need supervision—and read and follow recipes.
And just watch what happens as they become older and more independent. Creativity and inspiration take over!
Modern parenthood requires many hats like house-cleaner and chef, but turning these hats into opportunities to teach your children skills that will help them develop confidence and eventually be successful in life further down the road.
Disclosure Text : This is a sponsored blog post. However, while a portion of the content was supplied, it has been changed to reflect my own opinions and ideas. I have a material connection because I received monetary compensation to write and publish this content. More information can be found in my About page.
HTD says: You don’t have to be a master chef to teach your kids how to cook or bake. Frequently simply giving them guidance, encouragement and tips you have learned is enough for some cooking inspiration!