Cooking with kids can be a fun experience for everyone. Children like to feel like they are contributing to the overall experience… it makes them feel important!
Making foods from scratch shows children what healthy ingredients are and what belongs in their food. Explain why you chose certain ingredients and where they come from (a local farm?).
If there is time, take a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and turn it into a long activity. Go to the grocery store together, unpack together, prep together, cook together, and enjoy the food together!
Keep in mind, cooking with a child is best when you are not in crunch time or preparing for an event. If you are already running on stress, any mistakes your child may make (which might happen) could set you back.
Setting expectations before any work is done is very important. It will help you gauge their mood with how much responsibility can be doled out. Be sure to explain what is expected with sharp objects, the stove, the oven, and any hot surfaces. Create a safe space within your child’s reach that has no sharp, heavy, or dangerous tools. Be sure they understand that they cannot cook without you and must always be within supervision. Before touching any food to prepare, always be sure both of your wash your hands.
I always recommend that you make younger kids your assistant. Older kids can read recipes and gather kitchen tools that are within their reach (for example, measuring cups, mixing bowls, etc.) but not knives! Utilizing math skills in the recipes is good practice and will help develop their learning in a fun, engaging, process. Cooking together is a different way to introduce new foods to a picky eater. Children who are part of the cooking process are more likely to try a new food. When the cooking and eating are done, make clean up part of the routine!
Here are some fun recipes that are easy for children to make.
- English Muffin Pizzas: Open up the English Muffins like you are going to put them on a toaster and place them on a baking sheet. Spread chosen sauce (tomato, BBQ, honey mustard…chef’s choice). Sprinkle cheese and spices then your toppings. Bake at 400 degrees until cheese is bubbly and serve!
- Fruit Kabobs: Use a plastic knife to cut assorted fruit (strawberries, apples, bananas, pears, watermelon – that one’s for mom/dad). Other fruits don’t need to be cut such as blueberries, grapes, or anything that looks good at the grocery store. Use any skewers lying around the house or easily accessible. If you are feeling adventurous, drizzle melted chocolate or caramel.
- Cinnamon Apple Slices. Note: Parents should slice the apples, but children can help measure ingredients, coat the apples with topping, and places apples on the tray.
I’ve also found that Pinterest is a great tool for finding healthy recipes the whole family will enjoy!