20 Mar Unlock the Potential of Food to Discover: Getting Kids in the Kitchen
March is Nutrition Month dietitians are helping Canadians Unlock the Potential of Food.
Today I’m going to talk more about unlocking the potential of food to DISCOVER: by teaching children to shop and cook. Starting from a young age, inspiring children to shop, prepare and cook food can set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.
Prefer to watch? Check out my clip on Global TV discussing getting kids in the kitchen.
A great way to teach children about food is to let them join you in the kitchen; Yet, a recent Ipsos survey conducted in 2017 for Dietitians of Canada found that 38 per cent of parents rarely or never let their child prepare a meal or snack.
It totally get that it’s messy and time consuming, but it’s a missed opportunity! So today I have five tips for getting kids involved in the kitchen:
Build on lessons they learn in school, such as math, science or reading! Younger children can practice fine motor skills by stirring and pouring.
2. Keep it fun!
Imaginative play helps children get involved. Make a theme night or turn your kitchen into a restaurant or reality cooking show. My kids love creating menus and taking “orders.” Or create art: it’s fun for them to eat their art creation!
3. Be a role model:
If you’re excited to cook and try new foods, they will be too. Try a new food, describe the flavour and be adventurous to inspire your eaters to do the same. Get other members of the family involved.
4. Be cool about the mess:
Spills and accidental messes happen, and it’s important to remain calm about inevitable mishaps. Keep kitchen towels handy for cleaning up spills. Cleaning up messes is a part of learning how to be in the kitchen, so get your kids to help clean up.
5. Pick a recipe together:
Children need to be part of the plan from the beginning, and it helps if they prepare something that they love to eat. Shop for groceries together too! Kids are much more likely to eat what they choose or help make, so cooking at home is a great tip if you have picky eaters.
WHAT CAN MY CHILD DO?
Here’s a guideline of kitchen skills based on age:
- 2-3 year olds can wash vegetables and fruit or tear lettuce and salad greens
- 3-4 year olds can mash potatoes and bananas or mix together batters
- 4-6 year olds can measure dry and liquid ingredients or set the table
- 6-8 year olds can toss salad ingredients together or make a simple breakfast
- 8-12 year olds can make their own school lunch or help to plan meals
- Teens can follow more complicated recipes or assemble and mix most ingredients. They can also be in charge of making one meal per week.