Even if it just means shaking a little salt out of the salt shaker, kids get very excited about lending a helping hand in the kitchen. Not only that, they become eager to taste what they’ve made (after all, they have to make sure it’s good). Getting kids in the habit of cooking and tasting their own food will help educate them about healthy eating. They’ll learn more and be more willing to accept the food they’re given through this kind of hands-on experience.
Children are all very different, and just like some will gobble up whatever you put in front of them, others are more selective. This can sometimes make dinnertime a challenge since most of them probably belong to this second group. That said, teaching kids certain habits about food can be a valuable tool in the process of teaching them about healthy eating.
Have a blast cooking with kids
One of the most effective ways of getting our children excited about their dinner is to involve them in the cooking process. If you’re looking for things to cook with kids, don’t worry, they don’t need to whisk together egg whites or use dangerous tools.
Children are happy with the simplest things: try giving them an apron, a chef’s hat, and a wooden spoon and take their picture. Make them the star of the moment by treating them like a real chef! Then, put them in charge of stirring something, sprinkling salt or spices, arranging the plate before taking it to the table, or doing any number of fun (but simple) culinary tasks. And they’ll love it when their parents ask for their expert opinion: “What do you think—does this recipe need a little more of this?”
Cooking can be a fun game to play with the whole family, and there’s no doubt it’ll increase children’s interest in their own food. They’ll want to sit at the table and sample their creation. It’s also a great time to teach them about different foods, their different textures, and flavours, and all about why certain foods are so important for growing bodies. The counter might be a little messier at the end of the evening, but it’ll be worth it.
Afterwards, the game can continue. Just pretend to be at a restaurant, and they’re the servers and kitchen staff. Applaud them for the delicious meal they made. Or, play a game of “Guess the Cook” and let those at the dinner table “guess” who may have been behind the meal in front of them (your children will love the recognition). Let their imaginations run wild, and you can rest assured that they’ll feel invested in the game you’ve created for them. They’ll start wanting to like their dinner and maybe, just maybe, they’ll even finish it!
Head to the kitchen and get your kids cooking
The goal should never be to force children to eat: it creates the sort of unpleasant environment that you wouldn’t want to foster at the dinner table. Avoid making them eat certain things, getting angry at them, and making promises in exchange for obedience. It’s better to plan fun meals to cook with kids, or plan fun ways of having your children interact with their food, which will yield far better results. Even a child who shows zero interest in cooking may have fun plating the final product. The path to getting them to eat right is long and hard, but it can also be fun and satisfying, despite the myriad challenges.