As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s time that we bring back family meal time. One of the key components to that is getting kids more involved in the process to they have “skin in the game” so to speak and are more likely to try new foods and enjoy their meal experience. Here are my tips for having kids help with meals.
Let kids help plan the menu.
Hand them a cookbook or visit your favorite online recipe source and allow your kids to choose a meal or the components of a meal. They’ll get a kick out of choosing the beverages and dessert, too. Doing this is also a great way to talk about what goes on your plate as far as how much protein vs. vegetables vs. starches.
Take the kids shopping with you.
Shopping with your kids allows them to see what really goes into cooking a meal, plus they’ll be learning to navigate the grocery store, check nutrition labels and compare prices. You could also let them choose which type of lettuce to buy or what cut of meat looks the best to boost their confidence.
Don’t forget to have them help put away the groceries when you get home. This is a great chore to for kids ages 6-9 and really helps them learn their way around the kitchen.
Have kids set the table.
Teach your children where the napkin and silverware go and allow them to choose which placemats or glasses to use. It’s fun to create ambiance with candles and music, too, if you want to go all out. Small touches really can make meals more special. Food just tastes better when you eat together around an attractive table.
Teaching Your Children Good Eating Habits Doesn’t Have to be Stressful.
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Enlist the kids’ help with prep work.
Here are age-appropriate meal prep tasks (all requiring adult supervision):
Age 2: Wipe tabletops, rinse vegetables, and pour measured ingredients
Age 3: Pour liquids, mix ingredients and tear lettuce.
Ages 4-5: Toss salad, beat eggs with an eggbeater or whisk, and cut fresh fruit with a nylon knife.
Ages 9-12: Operate small appliances such as blenders and microwave ovens, do moderate chopping and sauté, pan-fry
Remember to use kid-friendly tools that are safe and that fit their smaller hands. Bring a step stool into the kitchen so they can see what they’re doing and work alongside you.
When kids help with meals, it makes it easier on the cook and the clean-up crew, plus it makes kids more invested in making healthy choices. Have you made the “We make healthy choices” pledge yet?
What do you do to let your kids help with meals? Let us know what’s working for you…