I often hear mums say how they would love their child to eat more fruit, vegetables and have a more varied diet but the biggest challenge is getting them to try new food! Does that sound familiar? In addition, Jamie Oliver recently said “People who learnt to cook before the age of eight are likely to make as many as FIVE meals a week from scratch, later in life.” So here are my tips that I share with mums on how to cook with children and the benefits.
Start with 5 Minutes in the Kitchen
As a mum it is sometimes difficult to find the time to cook with our children as everything always takes that bit longer. However the secret is to engage with your child in the kitchen e.g. washing fruit, mixing ingredients and then build up to making a recipe from scratch such as pancakes.
Creating and Cleaning Mess
Cooking with children can be a messy process however having essentials such as clean hands and hair tied back, aprons, a roll of kitchen towel and all the equipment e.g. measuring scales and utensils e.g. whisks ready before you start will save you a lot of time, stress and mess! I also recommend buying a child friendly knife.
Rule of 15
Research shows a child may need to be exposed to the same food up to 15 times before they actually try it. So if you have a fussy eater a great way to expose them to new food is by letting them look at it, touch it, smell it in the kitchen without actually having to eat it. As a result they start familiarising themselves with it and so when they see the food on their plate they are more likely to try it.
Fun Activity on a Budget
I am often stuck for budget friendly activities on a Sunday afternoon and cooking together is a great way of spending time together. Children love it as it is fun to lick spoons and get messy fingers! Also it is a great way to put literacy and numeracy into practice e.g. reading recipes and measuring ingredients as well as using a child’s creative skills.
Connecting with Food
By spending time in the kitchen you are educating your child about food far beyond why drinking fruit juice and sparkling water is healthier than a fizzy drink. You can talk about why we need calcium and where diary comes from as well fruit and vegetables and how and where they are grown. You are helping your child see the bigger picture so that they can make informed choices around food as they grow up.
Cooking with children is all about helping them learn about a variety of healthy foods, tastes, textures and most importantly teaching them a skill for life.
Do you cook with your children? Are they good eaters because of it? We would love to hear your views so please share them with us in the comments.