Tips to Involve Your Children in the Kitchen
- Meal planning
- Kids like to have options, provide them with some meal ideas and have them weigh in. Plan your weekly menu together.
- Grocery Shopping
- Your child can help you create the grocery list. This will make them more familiar with the different food items. In the store, have them help you push the cart and teach them what to look for for high quality fruits and vegetables.
- Back at Home
- Have your kids help you bring in the groceries and put them where they belong if they are old enough.
- Get Cooking Together
- When your kids are around the age of 3, helping in the kitchen can boost their confidence and self esteem and can encourage them to try new foods.
- They can:
- Take ingredients out of the pantry or refrigerator for you
- Wash fruits, vegetables and herbs
- Help assemble dishes (make it creative and colorful!)
- Help with measuring, tracking time and test food
- Crack eggs, grind grains and prepare nuts and seeds if toasting
- Around 5 years of age: using a child’s knife, they can peel, grate or cut vegetables (with your complete supervision!)
- Teach your child how to set the table and make it beautiful. This teaches your child that meal time is a sacred time when nourishment and community take place. Teaching this early on can encourage healthy eating habits and a healthy association with food. Every now and then, you can have your child make place cards for the family members – this will allow them to be in charge of something.
- Do you have a picky child? Making your food come alive can help children expand their food options and have fun in the kitchen!
- Some tips:
- Disguise vegetables be putting them in breads, soups, sauces, dips, spread or smoothies (squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach!)
- Changing the appearance of a vegetable can refocus your child’s opinion of the food. Use cookie cutters, ice cream scoops or fun-sized bowls for food presentation. Have your little chef turn a zucchini or pepper into a flower! Hearts, letters, stars and leaves are also fun shapes for them.
- Get creative by making plate-art. Create pictures, designs or fun colors with food. Instead of a pile of chicken, broccoli and sweet potato, you can change it to broccoli “trees”, sweet potato “flowers and chicken “clouds”. Remember to keep your child focused on erasing the canvas for the next meal by eating the art!
Sesame Beef Broccoli
Mini Spinach-and-Cheese Pizzas
Kid Friendly Snacks
For adults and kids: when you eat a snack, try to include a carbohydrate with a fat and/or a protein to decrease the impact of the carbohydrate on your blood sugar levels, boost your metabolism and keep you fuller longer. Snack time for kids is a great way to get in extra vegetables and fruit full of vitamins and minerals essential for their proper growth and health, rather than filling them with sugar and processed carbohydrates that will make them hungry in an hour or two.
- Ants on a log: celery, 2 T natural peanut butter and 1 T raisins
- Turkey slices wrapped around a cheese stick and chopped raw veggies like celery, carrots and/or cucumber
- Apple slices with 2 T natural nut butter + dried beef sticks (for extra protein!)
- Grilled chicken strips and raw veggies dipped in hummus
- ½ cup of full fat cottage cheese with ½ cup of berries and a handful of sunflower seeds
- Full fat cream cheese spread over a pickle or two and wrap in turkey (can also wrap a piece of lettuce around it)
- ½ a banana cut on top of 1 slice of whole wheat toast with 2 T natural peanut butter + dried beef stick or hard boiled egg
- Balanced smoothie: 1/2 cup full fat greek yogurt blended with 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, 1 cup of spinach and 1-2 T natural peanut butter