Cooking healthy nutritious meals is one of the biggest feats for busy moms and dads out there. With all that we do, it is hard to plan, shop, cook, and serve healthy delicious meals. It takes a lot of energy and an investment in time. Often, if you are diligent enough to get a healthy meal on the table, the picky little buggers don't even want to try it. This leaves us feeling deflated and under-appreciated. All of that time, energy, and MONEY has been wasted, and your kids end up asking if they can eat a bowl of cereal instead.
Have them pitch in.
A sneaky way to spark their interest and take some weight off of your shoulders is to have them pitch in when cooking. Not only are they more likely to eat what they have helped prepared, but it is a great bonding experience. Remember to keep it fun, and that it will likely be more messy than usual. But that is okay, you are creating memories here! This is also valuable time together that can be used to talk about each other’s day. Many times kids will share more about their days if distracted by another task.
Take on the philosophy of: If you are eating, you should be helping.
Helping out in the kitchen will give your kids a since of pride and lifelong skills and memories. This will also instills the value of doing your part to help support the family unit. Why should all of the weight of feeding the family lie on the shoulders on one person? Everyone can and should pitch in.
You shouldn't have to do it all. Have them do small tasks that are age appropriate.
Little buggers (2-6 years old) are able to:
- Rinse and scrub veggies
- Tear up greens or herbs
- Mash veggies
- Break apart cauliflower or broccoli heads
- Pour in premeasured ingredients
- Stir (cold ingredients)
- Set the table
Bigger buggers (7-11 years old) are able to:
- Read recipes
Teenage buggers (12 and up) can:
• Pretty much do anything in the kitchen as long as they are supervised
Don’t forget about clean up either.
Kids can help with that as well. Clearing plates from the table, putting up left overs, scraping scraps into the trash or compost bins, and rinsing dishes and loading the dishwasher are all tasks kids can help with. Spread the chores around, so Momma and Daddy don’t have to do it all.
Often, children feel helpless and out of control when it comes to eating. All of the decisions and choices are made by the adults. If you can give a little of the control to them, by asking their opinions on recipes or for suggestions of entrees or side dishes, then dinner time may not be such a power struggle anymore. They may feel included and more likely to happily try the new dish being offered.
Also remember that a child may need to be offered a new dish or food up to ten times before they accept it. Be patient and encouraging. Never turn it into a battle. Children should also be encouraged to eat until full. What isn’t finished can be put away and saved as leftovers.
Training kids to eat healthy, whole foods is the best gift you can give to ensure a lifetime of health. Teaching them a love of fresh home cooked meals will be more valuable than you know. Invest a little time and effort now and before you know it you will have some little chefs on your hands!
Try it today with this easy and yummy Simply Roasted Cauliflower recipe. Notice the flagged kid friendly steps!