"Cooking is at once child's play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love." ― Craig Claiborne
Food can play an integral role in families, not just in terms of what they eat, but also in terms of how the food is prepared. Taking the time to cook with kids can provide a connection point for families and develop a healthy attitude towards food. Here are five reasons it is beneficial to cook with your kids:
1. Spending time together
We nurture our bodies with food and by spending time cooking with the kids to create the food we eat, we are also nurturing great family memories. There aren't many adults who don't reflect nostalgically and with fondness on memories of licking the wooden spoon in the kitchen with their family. Cooking with kids is an activity that can be undertaken by the whole family regardless of the ages of the children and as such is a great way to spend time together.
Cooking is an activity where you can adapt the tasks to suit the ages and skills of the kids so it can be enjoyable. The time in the kitchen allows you to work together as a team to create a meal or snack to eat and share. And by keeping the emphasis on the process of working together and not the outcome, it doesn't matter if the end result isn't perfect as long as there was fun to be had.
2. Understanding the food they eat
With fewer children living in an environment where they grow their own food, cooking with kids helps them to obtain a better understanding of the food they eat. When cutting up a chicken breast, it allows for discussion about what animal the meat is from, what part of its body it is and the options we have in terms of buying poultry with regard to how the chickens are looked after.
With kids seeing supermarkets stocked with fruit and veg all year round, without taking the time to explain seasonality of produce, this is something that kids will not necessarily pick up on their own. By having kids handle the food they will later eat, they can begin to obtain an understanding of what to look for when buying fresh produce and understand the concept of seasonality.
3. Engaging picky eaters
Some kids are just pickier eaters than others, but most kids will be far more open to trying foods if they have played a part in producing the meal. Cooking is an experience that engages all of the senses, by encouraging the kids to feel, smell and taste the food as they prepare it can switch on their senses and allow them to experience these food in a different context. Rather than looking at the plate filled with food that has arrived in front of them on the table, they can see the meal as something they have created and have a connection to it, meaning they will be more likely to try it.
4. Learning opportunities
Cooking provides so many learning opportunities for kids in a practical setting:
- following instructions
- hygiene and safety
- life skills
To name a few. But as the learning occurs through a fun activity, like making their favourite dinner, they don't even notice the learning is going on.
5. Increased confidence
Through the practice and mastering of cooking techniques, kids are learning important life skills. Each time a child masters a new skill their confidence grows. It is wonderful to see kids serve up something they have cooked and their faces beaming with pride. Through cooking, kids can have the confidence to take on new task and be willing to try new things without being afraid if it doesn't work out, for example "What if we were to add some raspberries to this recipe?" "I am not sure, but let's try it and see what happens!"
Cooking with kids doesn't have to be hard or fancy for them to enjoy the benefits. Realising that it is the process and connection of time spent cooking with kids rather than the end result, allows you to enjoy those moments in the kitchen and ensure the kids will want to be there with you too.