Every kid at times can be mischievous, stubborn and curious, especially when it comes to dinnertime and meal preparation. The tried and true means of reducing this resistance is to get them involved in the kitchen as often as possible. But don’t be scared, it’s super simple to help them learn about nutrition and food safety. Here are a few tips to help get your little ones involved.
Why we eat what we eat
“But why?” is a favourite whinge from many dinner tables night after night. Educating kids on the roles of different food groups is easiest and most efficient when you're preparing it all right there on the bench. Help kids understand why you're steaming the broccoli or serving the carrots raw, or baking the sweet potato chips instead of deep frying them (like at the shops). Their level of comprehension will depend on their age, but an 8-year-old can understand the difference between wholegrains and refined white products.
Even though schools are still teaching the standard food pyramid, some of us prefer to eat a different way, and other families also have allergies and intolerances to deal with. Explaining why your family eats the way they do will help them understand and get them on board.
Getting hands on
All kids develop at different rates and will have different interests in the kitchen, but here’s a short list of suggestions to get them helping out:
- 2-3 years
- Pour dry and wet ingredients into bowls
- Rinse/scrub fruits and vegetables
- Prepare fresh herbs
- Brush oil or butter with a pastry brush
- Stir batter using spoons, whisk, spatula
- Mash vegetables
- 4-6 years
- Peel hard-boiled eggs
- Crack raw eggs
- Measure ingredients accurately
- Roll out dough
- Whisk with more efficiency
- Cut using safety knives
- 7-10 years
- Peel fruits and vegetables
- Set the temperature on cooking devices
- Use can opener, garlic press, electric beaters, grater, etc
- Make patties that will hold their shape
- Learn measurement conversions
- Cut foods using small knives
Doing it for themselves
So we've got them understanding why eating healthy is important for their growing bodies, and they’ve learnt the basics of meal preparation, so now let's get them started on creating their own lunches and afternoon snacks.
By providing a few healthy snack options, it empowers them to make better choices for themselves. For example, when making a snack platter together, you cut up the harder foods, then let them help by chopping the softer ones like bananas. When sorting out lunchbox ideas, it helps to get their input and then guide them towards healthier options that will help them learn.
Kids love to do things for themselves in their own way, but it is less nerve wracking as a parent when you know you've taught them nutrition and culinary skills that will continue to get better with practice and time. If nothing else, when they head off to uni they will know how to serve boiled eggs on toast!
Try these handy kid-safe knives and safety peelers - they allow your kids to help out without the risk of anything being chopped off!