When I was little, my grandparents kept me during the day while my parents worked. They had a huge garden we spent a large part of our summer days. As you could imagine, we enjoyed our time in the garden and preparing meals using the produce we had grown. I’ve been cooking as long as I can remember, or as we say it in the south since I was knee high to a grasshopper.
I remember sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen, smelling lunch cooking all morning and not being able to wait to taste test her famous green beans or Lima beans. My friends were always shocked at all the vegetables I loved, but that is what I grew up eating and cooking with my grandmother. I remember my aunt picking me and my cousin up from school and asking if we wanted to stop at Wendy’s for french fries on the way home. My response? “No thank you Aunt Orlyene, when I get to Mama Knight’s house I’m going to eat some fresh collards.” I know, what kid prefers collards over french fries? Seriously!
As I got older I realized what a gift I had been given. Not only did I know how to cook, but I loved vegetables and other healthy foods. Now that I am a mom, I really enjoy cooking with my kids. In fact they like to call it “kitchen chemistry.” You won’t find us doing very many craft projects, science experiments, or art projects around here. Instead, you’ll find us in the kitchen cooking together. Besides everyday meals we always celebrate a new season, holiday, or birthday by whipping up something special in the kitchen together.
According to University of Michigan’s Project EAT, kids that learn to prepare healthy meals with their parents form healthier eating habits compared to those who are not taught cooking skills. I have found this true in my family, as we cook together we talk about what kinds of foods fuel our bodies and how important it is to eat healthy meals.
Many times, if people didn’t grow up with this skill taught to them, they may not know where to begin with their own kids. This may seem intimidating at first, but just know that it is never too late to start. If you want your kids to eat healthier, but haven’t included them in helping prepare meals, you can start tonight. In fact, I’ve included a quick list of tips below to guide you along the way. I understand that cooking with kids can be stressful, especially if the proper preparation and expectations, so this list of tips can help ease that stress.
So what benefits are there to cooking with your kids? Well, I have found that cooking together opens the door for great communication and connecting. Not only do they share their hearts with me, but I a can also sneak in a math lesson or two without them realizing. Such skills include measurement, fractions, addition, reading comprehension, and sequencing. Additionally, when they are older they will know how to cook and won’t resort to quick fixes like fast food as easily.
If that isn’t incentive enough, why not use this chance to cook with your kids to enter the The Ben’s Beginners ™ Cooking Contest? After all, everyone loves a fun challenge! You can read details here for a chance to win $15,000 and a cafeteria makeover to your child’s school (homeschoolers are also eligible) and be the star of your household!
So are you ready to begin? Before you get started make sure to check out my helpful tips below!
- 1. First, decide on a kid friendly recipe together.
- 2. Next, have your kids gather all the ingredients that they can easily reach, while you get out the rest if needed.
- 3. Make sure you've got the necessary tools handy such as measuring bowls, measuring spoons, cutting boards, etc.
- 4. Know your limits and allow your kids to help in a way that is age appropriate.
- 5. Make cleaning up part of the process by teaching kids to clean up as they go. For example, put ingredients away as soon as you are finished with them and dirty dishes and silverware in the sink.Otherwise, you'll have a huge mess to clean up all by yourself, plus you are helping to teach lifelong habits.
- 6. Expect a bigger mess than if you were cooking by yourself.
- 7. Decide what will drive you crazy in advance and avoid it at all cost. I've tried letting my kids crack eggs, however for this season it's going to be my job. Digging out egg shells and cleaning slimy eggs off the floor sends me over the edge, so in my family I'm the one in charge of eggs.
- 8. Celebrate your kid's accomplishments. Let's all agree that if you've got little ones helping in the kitchen, then whatever you are cooking is going to look like they've helped. You might not win the most beautifully plated award, but the smiles on their face for a job well done is well worth it.
- 9. Don't cook together on days when you've lost all your patience by 10am. You know those days, we all have them! Use good judgment, wisdom goes a long way.
- 10. Enjoy! Relish every moment connecting with the incredible children that you get to do life with.
Cooking with your children makes for a great beginning! Visit www.unclebens.com and click on The Ben’s Beginners™ Cooking Contest page to learn more!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Uncle Ben’s. The opinions and text are all mine.
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