Kids in the Kitchen

It’s important to take time each week to get your kids involved in meal planning and preparation … you may even learn something from them!

Healthy Food

While restaurants can be a great option for busy families throughout the week, getting kids cooking in the kitchen is a must, too.  Cooking together as a family teaches kids more than just how to make a recipe!  When eating out, opt for Healthy Dining and Kids LiveWell menu choices to demonstrate the importance of healthier choices.  At home, follow these tips from Together Counts partner Redner’s Warehouse Markets for getting kids cooking and learning about healthier choices at home.

Teaching your kids the fundamentals of different foods and cooking techniques is an important step in helping them to explore new foods, learn about nutrition, enhance reading and math skills, and even have some fun. As we partner with the Together Counts™ program to help families lead an active and healthy lifestyle, we believe it’s important to take time each week to get your kids involved in meal planning and preparation … you may even learn something from them!

Give Your Kids a Voice and a Choice!
Allowing kids to be part of the planning process makes them feel important and want to take ownership over the foods they are eating. Setting limits and providing options will be key. Instead of “Would you like a vegetable?” or “Which vegetable would you like?” try “Would you like to make roasted cauliflower or creamed spinach?”

Scrub Up
Hand washing is a must before, during and after any food handling. Every year, more than 164 million school days are lost due to illness. It is believed that a great number of these days could be reduced if children merely washed their hands properly and regularly. Now is a great time for you to teach this important practice and keep yourself safe, as well!

Keep it Safe
Kitchens aren’t typically designed to accommodate children. Make sure they have a workspace that best meets their needs; a sturdy stool, a clean and clutter-free workspace, and utensils and equipment that are age-appropriate.

Try Something New
Walk outside the boundaries of “kid foods.” Make your life easier by exposing them to new foods and broadening their food horizons now. They may be much more willing to try a new food if they have their hands in the preparation. It may take several attempts to reach acceptance, but the effort is worth it!

No More Mess
Unfortunately, the kitchen isn’t all fun and games. Everyone should participate in the clean-up. This doesn’t mean the kitchen should be cleaned for the white-glove treatment, but we should always convey the message that food preparation areas need to be kept clean and sanitized.

Now this is the real fun part. When the food is prepared, it is time to sit down and enjoy as a family. Not only are family meals nourishing, but they encourage communication to strengthen family bonds!

Be a Role Model
Kids will make good choices, such as taking fruits and vegetables over less nutritious foods, when given a chance. Encourage healthy eating by creating a supportive environment, where parents and other caregivers model healthy eating and set good examples.

  • Take it with you. Show your child how to make healthy choices when you are on the run. Put oranges, bananas or other fruits in your bag for quick snacks. Let your child see that you like to munch on vegetables when you’re on the go.
  • Share the adventure. Be willing to try new foods, and try new foods together.
  • Keep things positive. Discourage older children and other family members from making yucky faces or negative comments about unfamiliar foods.
  • Set a good example for physical activity, too. Make play time family time. Walk, run and play with your child rather than sitting on the sidelines.

Take time each week to get your kids involved in meal planning and preparation.

Meredith McGrath RD, LDN, is the Corporate Dietitian at Redner’s Warehouse Markets. Her mission is to help people to enjoy food, but eat less and move more!