Teach Healthy Eating: Cooking for Every Age
Not too many children will list broccoli on their short list of favorite foods – but just because they don’t love those little green trees doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to get them eating healthy early on.
Many kids are more prone to eating something simply because they had a hand in making it – so get them involved in meal prep, regardless of their age! Here are some ways to involve your kids in cooking – and get them eating healthy – at every age:
Age 2-4: Let them give you a hand – and build those gross motor skills – by taking on smaller tasks, such as stirring or adding cheese to a sandwich. Toddlers are proud of being able to contribute, particularly when doing so allows them to be part of your world and enjoy new “big kid” privileges. Scrambled eggs, batters, and salads are all easy dishes for them to help out with. When measuring ingredients, let them add the pre-measured components into the bowl.
Age 5-7: Kids this age are likely early readers, so let them help interpret the recipe and instructions. They can also try their hand at measuring out ingredients, mixing, and maybe even cutting. You’ll need to keep an eye on them and be extra cautious if you let them use automatic kitchen tools, like auto mixers, never mind sharp objects. Let them start to weigh in on what you make by offering them a few suggestions.
Age 8-10: Let them take the driver’s seat and take control of the recipe and dish prep – consider them the sous chef and yourself their assist. You might also let them start weighing in on recipe additions or substitutions – letting them choose which veggies you add automatically ups the odds of them enjoying them.
Age 11+ Around this age, extra curriculars start to really run the show, often eating into (pun intended) family meals together – and with that often comes less healthy decisions. Consider letting your kid(s) take the reins one night a week when they don’t have other activities to prep a meal the whole family will enjoy. You’ll likely want to have them run the menu by you to ensure it isn’t full of noodles and chocolate chip cookies, but chances are good that they’ll embrace the opportunity for some independence and to show off a bit!