Healthy cooking for kids is always on a parent’s mind. As a mum, the health and wellbeing of your precious little ones is always high priority. However, a time will come when they leave the nest and set out to start their adults lives, and you’ll want to have peace of mind knowing that they can cook healthy food for themselves.
All too often young adults end up leaving home and subsist on a diet of takeaway or microwaveable meals because they don’t have the desire, patience, skill or motivation to cook. Naturally, you would feel like you let your kids down if they left home without any ability to prepare their own, healthy meals – and eventually your grandchildren will need someone to feed them a balanced diet!
Cooking healthy meals with fresh ingredients is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health, so it makes sense why you would want your children to have meal prep skills when they leave the nest. While they might fret and fuss now, they’ll thank you later in life for teaching them how to cook meals everyone will enjoy.
Three tips for getting the family interested in healthy cooking for kids:
1. Start with meals they enjoy
The easiest way to introduce the joy and utility of cooking to your children is to frame it as a quicker way for them to get their favourite meals. If your kids go bananas every time you announce beef lasagne for dinner, then it’s pretty obvious what dish you should start their cooking lessons with.
This tactic teaches your kids two important things. First – they understand that all the steps are necessary to create an end result. Second – they understand that cooking is the most direct way to get the food they personally want, whenever they want it.
When your kids are able to conceptualise cooking as more than just “what mum does for us every night”, they will respect it more and see it as a more useful skill as they grow up. While not all of your kids will be passionate about food (you might not even be), they will still have a more thorough understanding of its value that can only benefit them into adulthood.
2. Introduce them to lots of different meal preparation methods
Sometimes the best way to get a kid’s attention is one something bright, loud and exciting. The kitchen can definitely be an exciting place for a kid if you use your imagination and keep safety in mind at all times.
Teaching them how to crumb their own chicken tenders or showing them how to safely use a blender to make breakfast smoothies are fun, hands-on activities that kids don’t always get to see first-hand. Seeing fruit and veg get mercilessly sliced up by a blender is always fun for kids to watch and also shows them how appliances can be used to save time.
If the children are older, you can teach them about culinary differences between cultures. If you have an ethnic background, your homeland’s culture is a great place to source recipes you can use to teach your kids more about their background.
While they aren’t going to be throwing dukkah crusted chicken together on the first night, your kids can at least be expected to cook a variety of balanced meals. They should also be able to throw something impressive together for a special occasion, like when Mum comes to dinner!
3. Show them that cooking is a bonding experience
All the time you are teaching your kids how to cook, you are also bonding with them. Your kids will learn that cooking and eating can be highly social activities and take this into their adult lives, hosting dinner parties and barbeques in their own homes.