Junior Chefs: Six Ways to Get Kids Excited About Cooking

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Teaching your children to cook is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding ways to bond with them. However, the practice seems to be waning, with more families opting for food deliveries and take-out. Though convenient, this rising trend is sending the wrong message to our kids, who may grow up considering restaurant food to be the norm and home-cooked food a luxury. So, how can you get your kids excited about cooking? Just follow these five simple rules:

 

Equipped for Success

You wouldn’t start teaching your child about baseball without first introducing the bat, ball and other equipment. Cooking is no different. Adults take it for granted that we know what everything in the kitchen is for but kids don’t necessarily have that innate grasp. Start by explaining how to choose the right cookware or utensil for each job, so they have the ground rules.

 

A Family Event

Ensure that you spend at least one meal each day cooking with your kids. Start them off with simple tasks, such as washing, cutting or peeling vegetables, mixing or stirring ingredients. When they do it right, acknowledge their efforts with praise and plenty of hugs and high-fives. These tasks will not only encourage your kid to take an active interest in cooking but also help forge strong familial bonds.

 

Get Creative

Provide them with flour and water and ask them to knead a basic dough. Alternatively, open your pantry doors and allow them to choose their favorite ingredients, then use those to cook a dish of their liking – however small or outlandish! Acknowledge their efforts by incorporating their dishes into your meals. By doing so, you will spark their interest and encourage them to take pride in their creations.

 

Gamification

We love this idea by TV dietitian Lucy Jones! Kids enjoy a good challenge, so turn your grocery shopping trip into one. While shopping, ask them to hunt for an ingredient or name food items they haven’t seen before. When back in the kitchen, put them in charge of a meal and ask them to search for all the ingredients. Being in charge will make your child feel important, and they will look forward to such excursions. This activity will also help them be more informed about the ingredients used for cooking.

 

Story Time

Did you know that every year Pullman, Washington celebrates the National Lentil Festival? Or, in France, lentils are often served with roasted meat? Dishes – authentic, derived, or fusion – have rich histories and stories associated with them. We know kids love stories, so do a bit of research and regale your kids with stories about food. It will encourage a fascination to learn more about food and its pivotal role in global cultures.    

 

Gift a garden:

Create a small garden and dedicate it to your young ones. If you have a little apartment, opt for potted vegetables like chillies, basil, tomatoes, etc. Hand over the responsibility of the garden to your kids and teach them to nurture and grow these plants themselves. Tell them you will use only the ingredients sourced from their garden for cooking. This will encourage them to take up cooking with natural and fresh ingredients and instil in them a healthy respect for home-cooked meals.

 

Cooking together with your child can create everlasting memories for them – the laughter and joy that ensues, the inviting smell of home cooked meals, and the valuable lessons of patience, teamwork and the importance of family that they learned. So, head over to the kitchen with your little ones and whip up some something spectacular, with a dollop of love!

 

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