Why You Should Cook with Your Kids
Building a Positive Foundation with Food
As a big family of 7, we cook nearly every meal at home. It helps me make sure my kids and I are always eating real, delicious food. It also helps us eat more sustainable, organic foods and avoid unnecessary waste. (Not to mention it saves us a TON of money!)
But I don’t cook all of our meals by myself! I absolutely adore cooking with my kids. Honestly, I love cooking with any kids — sometimes my nieces or even neighborhood kids join in on the fun! There’s just nothing that compares to the closeness that you feel as you’re helping each other, creating something delicious together, and helping a child do (or taste!) something for the very first time.
And as enjoyable as cooking together is, there are so many additional benefits of cooking with children and showing them what a healthy relationship with food looks like. Here are just a few of the positive changes I’ve noticed as I’ve tried to involve my kids in the kitchen more and more.
It helps their social & emotional development.
Involving children in hands-on cooking activities helps them develop pride and confidence in their skills and abilities. They’ll feel empowered and capable as you patiently help them accomplish tasks, then show them their delicious results. Help them if they get frustrated. Praise them for their efforts. And encourage them to share the food they make with their friends!
It aids in their physical development.
Chopping, squeezing, spreading, and mixing are all cooking skills that help develop a child’s small muscle control and hand-eye coordination. Plus, cooking can help your children develop a healthy relationship with food and appreciate eating right, which is the foundation for good nutrition.
It makes them more open to trying new foods.
Taste-testing is my kids’ favorite part of cooking. (It’s mine, too!) While we’re cooking, I make it a point to make a big deal about introducing new fruits or vegetables. I try to make it fun and exciting — and that attitude often translates over to mealtime. I’ve found that when my children help out in the kitchen, they’re more open to trying different meals and other healthy foods.
It’s a teaching opportunity.
Cooking with kids gives you a chance to teach them valuable skills. Depending on your child’s age, you might use cooking to practice reading, following directions, and measuring ingredients. For younger kids who don’t read yet, try having them count out ingredients. My youngest loves to count out blueberries for muffins or chocolate chips for cookies. You can also use that time to teach them about how certain foods can help their bodies get stronger and do more of the activities they enjoy.
I truly believe it’s so important to help children form a positive relationship with food early on. Giving them regular experiences cooking healthy food will help them gain self-confidence, have better nutrition, be more open to trying new things, and learn valuable skills. And the close relationship you’ll form with them in the process? Well, that’s the icing on the cake.