Let’s be honest, most kids are notoriously picky eaters. Raising a child who loves to snack on sautéed broccoli as much as hot dogs can take years of patience and persistence, but the truth is it shouldn’t feel like a chore to get your children to eat their vegetables. Studies have shown that kids (and adults as well) tend to be more open to trying new food when they are able to associate it with a joyful experience, such as helping to prepare and cook it themselves. Over time, cooking with your children helps them build a sense of confidence within themselves which in turn transforms the concept of trying new foods into an adventure.
Here at Camp CHOP, we want to encourage every parent to share this experience with their children. We know first-hand the joys of cooking and love seeing our camper’s interest in cooking grow into a passion. Here’s a look at a few of the reasons why cooking with your kids can lead to so much more.
Turn Cooking into a Family Affair
Sometimes it seems like just getting everyone together for a family meal can be hard enough as is but try taking a step further on the next go-round and get everyone involved from the get-go. Take the time to share secret family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation or find fun seasonal recipes that you can add to your repertoire and family cookbook. Cooking together as a family and prioritizing healthy recipes over fast-food or processed meals is another great way of leading by example and creating life-long healthy habits. Even if you can only get everyone together once a week or even once a month, building a new family tradition can have a huge impact on your child’s life. There’s no such thing as having too many cooks in the kitchen.
Engage Other Senses When Cooking/Prepping
If you have a picky eater at home, you know just how difficult it can be to get them to try something new. Next time you cook together try to have them explore the food you’re making through more than just their sense of taste. Knead the dough, rinse vegetables, crack eggs – all of these are great examples of how some of their other senses such as touch, sight and sound can be a part of the experience. Likewise, mix in some herbs and spices to really open up that sense of smell. When it’s cooked to perfection, garner it for a greater sense of appeal. By opening up and exploring all of the other senses besides just taste you’ve now turned mealtime into an incredible new experience.
Ask Your Child for Input
A great way to get your child more involved is to ask them for input when preparing a meal. Collaborate with your kids by letting them choose a recipe or side dish. Take them with you to the grocery store or farmers market and have them pick out certain foods. When it comes to cooking, ask your child to taste what you’re cooking – does it need more salt or pepper? Together you can decide which ingredients would taste best. The more you can let your child lead the charge in the kitchen, the more involved they’ll feel.
Cooking as a family will help your kids develop into happy and adventurous eaters – all while gaining some very important life skills and wonderful memories along the way. And who knows, maybe with enough practice they’ll be cooking up a delicious meal just for you someday. If your child has an interest or passion for the culinary arts, check out Camp CHOP! Our early-bird pricing for summer 2022 is now available, so sign up now before it’s too late!