There are so many reasons to invite children into the kitchen. In the nutrition world, there are countless articles and studies that suggest we are raising a generation of children who have no idea how to make real food. Sure, they are able to open the freezer and pop the frozen pizza snack in the microwave, but we all know that just isn’t going to cut it for long term health and wellness. It is my goal to send my boys out of the nest knowing a thing or two about cooking and how to take care of themselves. I want them to thrive, not just survive!

1. Monkey See, Monkey Do!

Children learn by example. Our actions speak louder than words. Want your children to appreciate real food? Let them see you in the kitchen cutting up veggies for a snack. Ask them to find the carrots in the fridge or locate the cutting board in the cupboard. If your child sees you making healthy food choices, they will too!

2. Makes the Kitchen a Safe Place!

The kitchen can be a scary place for some children as well as adults. This one room in the house has sharp knives, a hot stove, many breakable items and the potential to start a fire. The kitchen does pose some reason for concern but the rewards far outweigh any risks. It is up to us to discuss with our children how to hold a knife safely, to remind them to stay focused while cooking and what to do in the case of an emergency. It is our job to teach them these skills and send them out into the world well equipped to care for themselves and their families one day.

3. Contributes to Family in a Meaningful Way!

Asking your child to help in the kitchen gives them a sense of empowerment, purpose and builds their confidence. It feels good to help someone else out. Children are eager to be of good service to you. All children, regardless of age can help in the kitchen whether it is placing napkins on the table, finding a measuring spoon or making the whole meal independently. The earlier you begin allowing your child to help in the kitchen, the more natural it will feel for everyone.

4. Super Skill Booster!

Cooking requires following directions, paying attention to details, reading, measuring, problem solving and turn taking. What family couldn’t use a little more practice in this area?

5. Create an Adventurous Eater!

If a child helps prepare food, they are more likely to be an adventurous eater. It may not seem like it right away, but with more exposure comes more interest in diverse flavours. The big thing here is consistency. At our house, we’ve enacted the, ‘One bite to be polite,’ policy with much success. It is understood that there will be some flavours that aren’t enjoyed by everyone. Try one bite without complaint and move on to another food on your plate.

6. It is Fun!

Sure it can get a little messy but the memories that are created in the kitchen can last a lifetime. Sometimes life is messy and if we panic over a little spilled milk or egg shells in our pancakes, what is that teaching our children about handling real life problems? There is much wisdom in remembering not to cry over spilled milk! Let your hair down (just not in the food) and have a good time in the kitchen. Put on some music and dance while the pasta boils.

7. Extra Time to Connect

In a world that seems over scheduled and harried, we need to make the most of the time we have together. When we are in the kitchen making food or cleaning up, there is an enormous opportunity to connect with your child. Interesting things are sometimes said while chopping cucumbers. Your child isn’t feeling the pressure of the after school questions that usually have the answers, “Nothing, good or I don’t know.” They have the opportunity to just let their thoughts flow in a way that is natural while they are spending time with you.

8. Adults Can Learn Something Too!

I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner. I also like to think of myself as open minded enough to let my child teach me a thing or two. A interesting thing happened a while back with the mustard bottle. One of my boys was looking at the mustard bottle and discovered that if you pushed the cap back far enough, it actually clicked out of place and no longer got in the way of the mustard as it was being squeezed out. Volia! With that one discovery, I no longer have to remove the mustard lid on a regular basis and clean it. Children have a unique way of seeing the world and I love it when that quality shines through.

Inspired to try a little baking with your child at home yet?

I recently invited some of my boys friends over and we did a little cooking together. I decided that I wanted them to try baking bread. It got a little messy with 6 kids in the kitchen with a bag of flour, but guess what? We all survived, the kitchen got cleaned up and we all ate some delicious bread. The kids were proud of their accomplishment – and I was too! Here is theĀ recipe we used. It is a quick bread to put together and requires no time to let rise. It was a perfect beginner recipe.