Want to know the secret to getting your kids to eat healthier? It’s getting them involved in the grocery shopping, food preparation and cooking. Their involvement helps them feel like they made the choice, as opposed to it being something you’re making them do. Not only may they be more willing to eat healthy options, but they might also start developing healthy habits for the future. They can also gain self-worth and self-confidence through helping you. Plus, it’s a great way to spend quality time together!
In recognition of Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day, we present you with these tips to get your kids involved in the kitchen!
- Take them shopping. Bring them with you to the grocery store and let them help you choose the foods you’ll need to prepare your meals.
- Give them a choice. Show them two healthy options such as carrots and green beans, and ask them which they prefer. They’ll be more likely to eat it if they chose it.
- Emphasize food safety by washing hands. Here are some tips on effective handwashing.
- Let them express their creativity. Provide them with ingredients to make an easy, healthy snack such as ants on a log, and let them assemble it.
- Buy and store kid-friendly equipment. Kid-safe scissors, plastic bowls, and rubber utensils can help prevent accident or injury. Kids might also love to wear their own aprons while cooking.
- Ask their opinions. Ask them how they think the cooking is coming along. Let them be taste-testers and give them the final vote of approval to tell whether a recipe tastes good enough to serve.
- Teach them. When you’re cooking, explain what you’re doing so that when they’re older, they’ll understand what to do.
- Enlist their help with an age-appropriate activity. When giving your children a task, it’s important to be sensible about what they’re capable of doing. Ideas include:
- Kids under 2 can participate by playing with a plastic bowl, spoon, pot or pan that you do not intend to cook with. This will also help to distract them from what you’re doing.
- 2-year-olds can help with washing fruits and vegetables, and tearing lettuce or other vegetables that can be broken apart like broccoli.
- 3-year-olds can help knead dough; combine, mix and pour ingredients; throw items in trash; and put things away.
- 4- to 5-year-olds can help get items from the pantry or refrigerator, roll dough, mash foods, measure and mix, and shake salad dressings.
- 6-year-olds and older can help read simple recipes, crack eggs, sift, measure, watch cook times, cut fruit, vegetables and spices, and tenderize proteins.
- Teenagers can help with almost any task in the kitchen; some may be more receptive and really enjoy learning how to cook.
Check out these kid-friendly recipes for inspiration!
Sunflower Granola Breakfast Parfaits – Quick, easy and healthy breakfast recipe. Kids of all ages can help assemble this.
Sloppy Joes – You’ll never taste the mushrooms in this healthy sloppy joe recipe.
Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders – A healthier take on a favorite “kid food,” this recipes calls for whole wheat bread crumbs.
Ten-Minute Tomato Soup – You can really cook a delicious soup in 10 minutes!
Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks with Herb Dipping Sauce – Forget the frozen fish sticks–try them homemade.
Mini Spinach-and-Cheese Pizzas – Everyone in your family will love these kid-sized pizzas. They only take a total of 25 minutes to make!
Granola Bars – Make your own granola bars for a handy and healthy snack.
Coconut Lime Energy Bites – Gluten, dairy and nut free, these healthy but delicious snacks will be the envy of the school cafeteria.
For Health Advocate Members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our Wellness Program, call us today to connect with a Wellness Coach for more great tips to keep your family healthy!