They say the kitchen is where the soul of the home resides. Moreover, eating healthy meals together is a great way for the family to bond every day. While cooking can sometimes be a chore, it can also be made fun. If you want to inculcate a true love for healthy food in your child, then you must let him play with it.
Usually, little ones are told to stay out of the kitchen, just to keep them away from the gas stove, knives and fire. But, there is more to cooking than working with this equipment. If kids are interested, they can be a lot of help and fun to work with. With a little effort and care, this activity can be an enjoyable one for everyone. The best thing is that kitchen playtime will ensure your little master chefs not just understand the importance of healthy eating, but also end up with a fabulous foodie vocabulary.
Here are different ways in which parents can have fun in the kitchen with their kids --
1. Playing with the Tools
If you have a toddler, the first thing you can do is get him a kitchen set or let him start playing with some of your kid-friendly utensils, to develop a sense of familiarity with kitchen items. These days you can get kitchen tools like baking and cookie-making sets specially made for the little ones. These come in bright colours and are made with food-safe material that children can use in the kitchen.
2. ‘What’s for Dinner?’
The next step is to start planning meals with the children and looking for recipes together. This will surely get them excited about cooking and eating. Discuss with them what the next meal should include and let them participate actively in the decision-making process. You can gradually get them to look for healthy options made with interesting ingredients. Once you start cooking, let them read out the recipes aloud. Get creative and animated along the way.
3. Dressed for the Role
One surefire way of getting children interested in cooking and food is to get them chef coats and hats. You can monogram these with their initials, so that they develop a sense of importance. Let them don their own aprons too. You can even make chef hats at home with chart paper. They will surely feel a sense of responsibility as they get ready.
4. Let’s Buy the Groceries
Children particularly enjoy visiting a grocery store as they get introduced to new ingredients and farm produce. Get them involved in selecting the perfect tomatoes and oranges. If you are picking any packaged food, read the nutritional information along with them. Tell them a bit about a balanced diet and the role of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This will not just make them learn about healthy food but also understand its importance. While shopping for food, children understand the effort that goes into cooking from scratch. As a result, they will instinctively respect food.
5. Prepping for the Meal Preparation
Delegate age-appropriate kitchen tasks such as putting veggies in bowls, washing them, measuring ingredients, mixing and stirring in the bowls and pouring. The younger the child, the bigger the bowl you should use, to cut down the mess. Encourage them as they accomplish each task.
6. Making an Impressive Presentation
Let your children lay the table and help with presenting the meal in plates and bowls. Try to use unbreakable dishes as much as possible and don’t let them lift the heavier bowls lest they may spill over or drop. This is a task they can help with every day, as they prepare to eat.
7. Don’t Forget Chef Daddy
It’s great to get your son/daughter involved in cooking but it is also important for your husband to lead the way along with you. If he is a great cook, then he can be involved in showing the children the ropes. Even otherwise, getting all the family members into the kitchen for a collective effort paves the way for a great bonding exercise and helps the family have a relaxed and fun time together. It is also a great way to show the kids how you and your husband work as a team.
One thing you must remember, and your kids will remind you anyway, is that the mess is unavoidable when little hands are at work. But the benefits of this exercise outweigh these small glitches.
So, what are you waiting for? Get the aprons out and make the kitchen a learning ground for your little ones, while having lot of fun.