Cooking is an exciting and novel experience for children. Whether they’re making chili or hot buttered popcorn, the act of cooking provides an instant entry into the adult world.
Here are 10 reasons why you should cook with your kids:
1. Cooking is much better for both of you than eating out. Have you seen the terrible excuses for “kids’ meals” recently? Just because they’re designated “for kids” doesn’t mean that children (or you, for that matter) should assume they’re healthy choices. You’d better believe that some restaurants won’t hesitate to serve up belt-busting options that contain 600 calories and nearly 40 grams of fat, which is part of the reason why child obesity is on the rise! Teaching kids to cook will help instill skills to last them a lifetime.
2. Boost their self esteem. If your child needs a boost of self confidence, (and who doesn’t!) cooking in the kitchen will do just that. They are accomplishing a task, learning something important and contributing to the family.
3. Create family time and bonding. Every family has signature recipes. (One of my great-grandmothers was known for her chicken paprikash; another for her sugar cookies.) Teach your kids the staple recipes of your family. They will learn culinary skills, and you’ll get the opportunity to fill them in on their ancestry. (Just remember to have patience. Don’t worry about flour on the floor or spilled milk).
4. Kids will be more apt to eat what they make. Kids who learn to cook are more knowledgeable and interested in healthful ingredients than those who don’t. Kids generally shy away from foods that seem unusual or foreign. If they don’t know what broccoli is (and it’s true that some don’t), they’re not going to take a risk to find out what it tastes like.
5. Kids learn real lessons in science, language, math and creativity. Cooking will help reinforce all these subjects!
6. What a great way to learn life skills. This can be especially helpful when kids are on their own and won’t have to rely on fast food and junk food to sustain them.
7. They can help contribute to the family. Even if they’ve just stirred the pot or snapped the beans, the pickiest family members will be much more eager to try every dish on the table if they’ve had a hand in the making. No matter if it’s an ingredient they’d usually shy away from, there’s no way they’ll resist sampling their own handiwork.
8. They are working together as a team, whether it is with a parent or with a sibling to get the job done.
9. These skills last a lifetime. They’re small fries now, but eventually, they’re going to grow up and have to fend for themselves. While all the other kids in their dorm are scrounging up change for pizza, your kid will be whipping up a healthy, hearty batch of stew or a pasta primavera for all of his or her roomies.
10. You just might get a nice surprise. Yes, this is all about arming your kids with everything they need for a happy, healthy culinary life, but the more they learn, the better your chances are of waking up to a birthday breakfast in bed, or a surprise Sunday lasagna dinner — made with lots of love.