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You have heard it all before cook with your kids, its great for their development, it helps them eat better. BUT why? Why is it so good? Well I am digging a little deeper into the research to show you exactly why your kids belong in the kitchen! But if you are already convinced it’s a good thing, skip to the end to read my tips on making it easy and stress-free to get your kids to help you in the kitchen!

They need to learn to cook. It is a basic life skill. And at some point they will need to be able to cook themselves, their own kid’s food! So its great to get them started early, because it is a long process! They aren’t going to be cooking genius’ over night. They aren’t going to eat everything in site after just one cooking session.

Children learn by touching, feeling, tasting, smelling’s and listening. Cooking uses all of these senses. It has the ability to fully engage them. So while it might not happen over night, the benefits of cooking with your kids can stay with them through their life. It can allow them time to taste, touch, smell their food as well as create ownership over something they have created!

Why it is so important to get your kids in the kitchen

It’s a way to talk about healthy ingredients.  It helped young kids get a feel for what goes into their food and what they eat to make them feel good! As they get older and a little more advanced you can really incorporate talking about different ingredients and why they are good for us!

‘Children who cook, become children who taste and sometimes eat’ – studies have shown that kids that cook a meal with their parents are more likely to taste it at the end. This is because the ingredients are no longer foreign. They have had the opportunity to try things and touch things while they are cooking.

It develops vital skills for their future.  At some point in everyone’s lives they will be required to prepare a meal for some one else. Whether it be for a partner, friends, or their own kids.  Oh and the earlier they start to learn, the earlier they can help you out. I remember in high school I would make my lunch everyday and cook at least one night a week. I though mum was being lazy, little did I know it was the best thing she could have done for me because I left home with the confidence to cook and look after my health and diet.

Cooking does more than just teach kids to cook.

They use math, reading, following directions and also one of the greatest skills anyone can learn intuition. As they gain confidence in the kitchen let them veer off from a recipe. Something it will work, sometimes it won’t! Not to mention cooking also help their fine motor skills and hand eye coordination.

And if you’re not convinced by now, it can also be great for bonding time. And the proud smile on your kids face when the whole family is enjoying something they helped to cook is priceless!

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The best ways to get your kids cooking

  • Start small; introduce them to playing with veggies, or helping unpack the groceries. This can begin the conversation about what different fruit and vegetables are and why we need them!
  • Sit them on the bench and talk them through what you are doing. If there is an easy mixing step, mashing step get them involved – they don’t have to be involved in every step every time.
  • Invest in some kid safe knives and peelers. To get them to help cutting soft fruits and vegetables and peeling carrots, potatoes or anything really!
  • As they get older start to get them more involved in meal planning, and start supervising opposed to taking over.
  • They don’t have to be involved in every single thing you cook. That is far more stress inducing than beneficial. INSTEAD, section out 30mins of time on the weekend or and get them involved in baking cookies that are then going to be enjoyed by the whole family – this not only makes it a little less stressful, teaches them valuable skills, but they also get to be proud of what they created as they whole family enjoys it!\

Try some of my favourite easy recipes to get them started!

Don’t get deterred, it is a VERY long process. You won’t see their relationship with food affected after just one stint helping out and they definitely won’t be amazing cooks by age 5. Just like we slowly developing our reading skills over time, we developing our relationship with food over time. It is a constant work in progress.

What do you struggle most with when getting your kids involved in the kitchen?

Love The Shelley’s Good Eats Team! xx