The Benefits of Cooking with Kids

Maybe you LOVE to cook. Maybe you loathe it. Either way, this message is for YOU. In fact, even if you’re not a fan of cooking, incorporating these useful lessons will make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. So, if you’re a young parent, grandparent, babysitter, or teacher, grab your apron and suit up. It’s about to be a fun (and probably kinda messy) ride!

First things first. Food is meant to nourish your body, and the BEST thing you can do for the littles in your life is role model healthy choices. Incorporate lots of whole foods in your diet, and offer them options (not just the stuff you like) so they can expand their palettes. By encouraging them to try new things, you’re also expanding your range of menu options. Say buh-bye to chicken nuggets and mac and cheese every single night. You deserve better, and so do they.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about some other awesome lessons kiddos can learn just by being active in the kitchen:

  1. Responsibility – We all have to eat, and unless you have a gourmet chef as part of your household staff, food doesn’t magically show up when you’re hungry. Teach kids to recognize the signs of hunger, and take appropriate actions when they sense it. Instead of requiring that they ask you for a snack every time, put healthy options at a level they can reach. For example, keep celery, raisins, and peanut butter on low shelves in the fridge and cabinet, and suggest having a little fun by making Ants on a Log for a quick snack.
  2. Math skillsMeasuring, counting, and sorting are all part of cooking 101. Ask your kiddo to organize the wet and dry ingredients, count how many florets come from one head of broccoli, or measure out a cup of flour using two different sized measuring cups.
  3. Science skills  – Talk with your little Einstein about liquids and solids, floating and sinking, and chemical reactions.  A simple egg offers tons of opportunities for them to learn. Does it float or sink in a pot of water? What will happen to the gooey egg after it’s been boiled?
  4. Money management – To cook, you need ingredients! Consider your kiddo a savvy shopper in training. Give them their own grocery list of items to locate at the store, and have them compare prices to find the best deal!
  5. Creativity – Cooking is an art. Give their little hands some freedom and watch their imaginations take over. A cookie that’s square instead of round? Why not! An assortment of fruits and vegetables arranged to look like a smiley face? How fun!

Here’s the deal – you don’t have to be a master chef to pass along the benefits of cooking to the young people in your life. So take a breath, and remember that every little lesson you toss in the mix is another great building block for their future. You’ve got this!