Cooking at home with your kids might sound like a recipe for disaster. Yet experts say teaching your kids to love cooking is very important and could help them be successful in many other ways.
Sure, they might make a lot of messes along the way, but those things can be cleaned up. Worry less about mess and more about making a positive impact through a love of cooking. Take a look at the 10 reasons why it’s so important to cook with your kids!
1. It creates a life-long foundation for healthy cooking
Sure, you’re not going to let a 4-year-old use the stove alone. But showing your kids how to make healthy snacks in an age-appropriate way sets the tone for how they will live their lives. Kids that only fetch packaged foods loaded with processed ingredients out of the pantry for their snacks and meals are more likely to grow up with obesity and malnutrition issues
2. They’ll be more likely to try new things
For many children, trying something new is scary. With you by their side, they won’t be so afraid to cook. Much of that fear stems from making messes or doing something wrong, so it’s up to you as the parent to be kind even in those moments.
What’s more, by cooking with your kids, they’re more likely to taste new foods. When they see how something healthy is prepared, it makes it more approachable. They might not always like what they taste, but if you always applaud their efforts, they will continue trying new foods without making a fuss.
3. Cooking engages all the senses
In the kitchen, you can use the opportunity to pique every sense for your kids. Dough can be kneaded, much like their favorite Play-Doh, a great touch experience. There are all those smells, sounds, and of course, the best part…taste! There is nothing more rewarding than to taste the creation you’ve come up with together!
4. It builds confidence
There is nothing more satisfying than creating a meal from scratch. Kids feel that sense of accomplishment as your kitchen helper. That confidence will go beyond the kitchen too and help them achieve even more in school and in life.
5. Cooking keeps kids away from the screen
In addition to eating more processed foods, today’s kids are always in front of a screen. Whether it’s the TV, smartphone, tablet, or computer, limits should be in place to keep them in the real, live world. By cooking together with your children, you engage them in something that not only has a big payoff at the end (food!) but it also keeps them busy and learning while being fun. Take that, video games!
6. It gives them lessons on more than cooking
Take your kids in the kitchen and let them love cooking for so much more than the food they create. You can turn it into a life lesson full of basic math from counting, measuring, weighing, and keeping track of time. They also learn how to communicate face-to-face instead of via texts to enhance communication skills.
7. They’ll choose more fruits and vegetables
Research shows that kids that cook at home tend to choose more fruits and vegetables on their plates. When kids see the fun of choosing fresh ingredients to cook, healthy foods win every time.
8. It harnesses planning skills
After a few basic cooking lessons, you can also help your kids love cooking by letting them plan the weekly dinner menu with you. Sit down with them every Sunday to decide what you’ll cook for the week. Then, ask them what they would need to cook those things. Make the shopping list with them. This is one important skill so many children lack and one of the reasons why so many young adults have no idea how to cook for themselves.
9. Cooking builds positive memories
Sure, your kids will definitely remember when you take them to Disney World. But they will also look back on their childhood fondly with memories of cooking with you. None of us will live forever and while it’s hopeful you live a long life, tomorrow is never guaranteed. Let them have the kind of memories they’ll always treasure. And when they are grown up and holidays come around, they will be more likely to come help in the kitchen and make new family memories.
10. It winds up giving you more help overall
In the beginning, especially when your children are small, it will take twice as long to get things done. But after cooking together with your kids, they will soon engage in their responsibilities without you having to ask. They’ll do the tasks they need to for creating the meals and help you clean up. Patience pays, but it’s well worth it!
Even if your kids are a little bigger, it is never too late to teach them to love cooking. Older kids might resist a bit, so start out with something you know they like. Make it a date even if just once a week and you’ll see a change in behavior for the better. Even the most angsty of tweens and teens wants to spend time with you despite acting like you’re the capital of uncool in public.
Use those opportunities to cook together as a way to build bonds, knowledge, and confidence with your kids. The benefits will be delicious for everyone!