Kids in the kitchen
Planning. Concentration. Creativity. Pride. Experimentation. Chaos. Mess…
The list goes on when it comes to kids cooking!
Each school holidays, our three children (currently aged 7,9 & 11) plan and prepare an evening meal for our family. It is a task they all enjoy, and although it is probably MORE work for me (not less), the rewards are 100% worth it. Holidays can be a time to hone a few life-skills when there is hopefully a little more free time, and I don’t think there is a more important skill than knowing how to feed yourself. The meals that are created differ according to the age and ability of each child, but you may be surprised what they are capable of!
Allowing children of all ages to experiment and experience food preparation is one of the many important steps in raising competent, diverse eaters. Here are 5 reasons why:
- The power of choice. Children don’t always have control over what food is presented to them, and they relish the opportunity to prepare their favourite dishes. Inevitably the dessert menu is planned first and the main more of an after-thought! That doesn’t matter at all. For younger children you may need to help them quite a bit, but as they gain confidence, independence will come. The youngest member of our family often makes a salad to go with meat on the bbq. Simple, nutritious, develops her knife skills, and uses wholefoods. Winner!
- Confidence. Knowing what to do with the raw materials that is wholefood is a skill that seems to be disappearing with so much pre-packaged food. How to chop and slice. How to cook in a frying pan or oven. How to prepare a meal with each of the main food groups. Some meal delivery services like Hello Fresh can be a great introduction to step-by-step cooking with fresh ingredients if you’re not a confident cook yourself.
- Creativity. Looking through cookbooks and imagining the meals is fun for all of us. We begin with choosing a few options, then make a final choice based on seasonal produce, time to prepare and time to cook. The chef writes a shopping list, does the grocery shop, and spends an afternoon preparing. The table gets set, sometimes with place settings, drinks and embellishment. The meal presented with little flourishes.
- Curiosity. For some children, trying new foods is daunting and they seek out their safe foods. The more we can normalise different ingredients and foods, the more likely that fear will subside and they may taste something new. Touching and preparing raw ingredients is one way to allay that fear and pique their curiosity about textures, smells and (possibly) tastes. Conversations can happen around our senses, how foods change when raw or cooked, or look different when prepared in different ways.
- Pride. The final result, whether it looks like the recipe or not, is always loudly applauded and appreciated by our family. Knowing you can bring a recipe to life, feed the people you care about and contribute to your family is a powerful thing, and something to feel proud of.