Between Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, wonderful nutrition messages about getting our children involved and excited about real, nutritious food are starting to get out there. Seeing young kids who were unable to identify a potato, eggplant or even tomato was certainly an eye-opener for me! One of the first steps we can take to get younger generations excited about food is simply to get them involved when we cook. This way, they will start to understand and enjoy the process of making a hearty and nutritious meal from scratch, and carry these lessons throughout their lives.
1. Teach them where their food comes from. Take them with you to the farmer’s market or start planting your own vegetable garden; help them realize that food doesn’t come from a box!
2. Make decisions together. Allow them to choose two favorite fruits or vegetables the next time you’re out shopping for food so they can feel like part of the grocery experience.
3. Educate along the way. Sneak in some fun facts about fruits and veggies while you’re cooking or shopping, or tell them stories about favorite meals you had growing up.
4. Be a role model. Try to not only eat healthy, but also to enjoy food – all kinds! Teach them that while the focus should be on real foods, all foods can be a part of a healthy lifestyle.
5. Embrace the mess. It’s inevitable that mixing recipes and creating meals with your child will leave the kitchen a little messier than usual, but allowing the kitchen to become a disaster zone might inspire some creativity from your children if they know it’s all about the food.
6. Celebrate the entire dining experience. As parents, we need to celebrate and enjoy sharing meals and starting food traditions together with our families, and we can pass on that message to our children.
7. Always appreciate their efforts. It’s important to recognize their contributions in the kitchen, and thank them for their help in preparing your latest culinary creation to enjoy.
8. Make it fun! Have them snap green beans, stir big bowls of dough, mash potatoes, add in spices, or toss salads together. Kids can be involved while still being safe – you can even get them a fun apron or chef’s hat to get them more excited!
How do your children help you out in the kitchen? I’d love to hear your tips!
Assistance provided by Megan Skinner