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July 15, 2016
3 Tips for Cooking with Kids

3 Tips for Cooking with Kids

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

School is out, and summer vacation is in full swing. It’s time to get your kids into the kitchen!

Cooking for themselves and others is an important life skill children can start to learn at an early age. Youngsters who help to prepare their own nutritious foods are more likely to eat them because they are involved in the process. 

It’s easier to let children help you get food on the table in the summer because your schedule is more relaxed. “Cooking” doesn’t have to mean turning on the stove in the hot weather, however.  There are plenty of healthy meals and snacks to make without overheating.  

Here’s how to have fun with kids while they learn some cooking basics: 

Keep cooking age-appropriate.  Kids love to participate in assembling food for the family, and it’s important to give them tasks they can manage safely.  For example, younger kids (age 3 to 5) are capable of washing fruits and vegetables, and mixing ingredients into muffin and other quick-bread batters, such as pancakes.  Older children (ages 10 to 12) are able to work more independently, provided they’ve had some instruction. Most preteens are able to follow a recipe, bake in the oven, and chop fruits and vegetables, among other tasks. 

Start simple.  Work with children to choose uncomplicated delicious and nutritious recipes they can make on their own or alongside you or another adult, including:

Breakfast Banana Split

Pear and Apple Nachos

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Energy Bites

Kids don’t need recipes to make healthy dishes.  Assembling a fruit salad is a basic task that a child can be proud of.  Take children to the store and allow them to decide what fruits to use. 

Stay cool.  Patience is the name of the game when working with children.  There will be plenty of spills and mistakes, so don’t expect perfection. Also, because most children are just learning how to measure, mix, or chop for the first time, they won’t work as quickly as you do. When you’re just starting out with a young one in the kitchen, try making breakfast or a snack early in the day, when you both have more energy.   

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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