“In an increasingly time poor society, ‘life skills’ like cooking are being lost and the primary school environment, as well as at home, is the perfect place for children to begin this journey.” -Joanne Bowskill, Founder of Get Kids Cooking
Sure, including the kids in meals preparation may require more time, patience, and extra clean-up, especially with younger children. But many experts think it is well worth the effort, and not just for the reasons you may think.
A number of organizations and experts are popping up and promoting cooking with your children as an extremely beneficial parenting exercise. Here are just a few of the reasons:
1. Cooking teaches kids about eating well, and makes them enjoy it.
Kids may not always be the most interested in nutrition, especially the type that involves long term side effects. Planning a meal together can be an chance to discuss healthy food choices. Discuss the food groups and encourage your kids to experiment. Kids are more likely to eat what they help make. Cooking creates a sense of ownership. When kids help in the kitchen there may be fewer meal-time battles and a willingness to try new foods. Plus, Meals prepared at home usually contain more nutrients and fewer calories. Kids who learn to eat well are more likely to eat healthfully as adults.
“‘Parents initially looked at me as if I had six heads, and wondered why I was having the kids make Thai-inspired fish chowder and not mac ’n’ cheese with broccoli,’ she said. Despite parental protests that ‘my kids would never eat that,’ the children really enjoyed the more exotic dishes they prepared, she added.” –Bringing Out the Chef in Children By JANE E. BRODY
2. Cooking provides quality family time.
“Preparing meals together means quality time as a family. Cooking with children when they are young offers an opportunity to communicate with them on a regular basis. Your time chatting and cooking in the kitchen together becomes even more important as they reach the adolescent and teenage years. “ -from Easy Meals to Cook with Kids by Julie Negrin
Another large benefit to this shared time is eating dinner together regularly. Involving your kids in the cooking can be a huge boon to to getting them to appreciate family meals. This is important in a time when many families fail to sit down to even one meal together in a day. Working together in the kitchen can also be a great way for siblings to connect.
3. Cooking boosts confidence and creates a sense of accomplishment.
Spending time creating something others enjoy gives them confidence. Kids thrive on feeling accomplished. Cooking is great for improving self-worth and a great tool with which to teach responsibility. It’s the start of a pattern that can also involve making good food choices and developing a positive relationship with food. Cooking can also foster responsibility by having them follow recipe directions and cleaning up after themselves when the project is completed.
“Learning how to safely handle kitchen equipment is an important part of learning to cook. Kids need safety reminders and help with following the steps in a recipe, but they can learn to clean up spills as they happen and to put things back where they belong.” -Kidshealth.org from Cooking With School age Kids
There are numerous other benefits to cooking with your kids. Attributes can be improved you may not even have thought of, like math skills and fine motor skills, can be improved through actions such as measuring and cutting. Try starting with something easy like breakfast on the weekends and see what you and your kids can create.