As we embark on a new school year, I’d like to finish out the Summer with 10 tips to involve children in the kitchen. With the goal to help them better understand healthy food choices and get involved in the decision process.
Here are some ideas on how to draw our children into the kitchen for learning and participation in their own nutritional health. The key is “hands on” experience!
1. Eat meals with your children. Even a few meals a week.
“When families dine together, they tend to eat more vegetables and fruits -- and fewer fried foods, soda, and foods with trans fats, research shows. When younger kids frequently eat dinner with their families, they are less likely to be overweight than other children.” (http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/family-dinners-are-important)
2. Let each child choose a dinner meal for the week. If possible, let them grocery shop with you for the needed ingredients.
3. Assign meal preparation to those old enough, anything from the side dish to the main course. Keep a list of meals and assignments on a white board or paper where everyone can see it.
4. Make healthy snacks, make-ahead dinners and breakfasts together. If you need lunches for on the go, pack and plan the lunches together. Think outside the “box”, something different from the traditional sandwich.
5. Assign a child to be in charge of keeping the fruit bowl stocked and accessible on the counter.
6. Find fun science experiments that involve food: growing avocados, onions, and sprouts in a cup.
7. Each week or month, set a family goal for improving eating habits during that time. Make it a challenge and have a prize for the winner.
8. Place a fact sheet about fruits and vegetables on the fridge or kitchen door. It helps kids learn the nutrition facts about the foods they are eating.
9. Assign children to set and clear the table. As they see the healthy foods placed on the table, they learn how to create a balanced meal.
10. Grow a garden! Let children be responsible for planting, watering and harvesting the produce. It is exciting to eat something you have worked hard for and watched grow.
“If you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food.”