Health Advocate Blog

Why you should invite your kids to join you in the kitchen

Do you struggle to get your kids to eat healthier? Is it always a challenge to get them to eat their veggies at dinnertime? There’s an easy trick to getting them to eat better: getting them involved in the grocery shopping, food preparation and cooking.

Kids’ involvement in meal planning and prepping 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.

Here are some tips that can help you 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.

What are age-appropriate kitchen activities for kids?

When giving your children a task, it’s important to be sensible about what they’re capable of doing. Age-appropriate 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.

For Health Advocate Members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the wellness coaching component of our Wellness Program, call us today to connect with a coach for more great tips to keep your family healthy and eating well!