Many of us have fond memories of our Mum or grandmother teaching us how to make biscuits or knead bread. And then maybe there were cooking classes at school, making scones and stuffed baked potatoes.
These days, it’s possible that teens don’t even know how to boil an egg- let alone make a batch of scone dough for home-made pizza. So how can you ensure your children get skills in the kitchen, setting them up for a life of healthy meals and self-sufficiency? It’s easy- just follow these few simple steps.
- Spend time with them in the kitchen (and be patient)
We all lead busy lives, and that’s often the biggest barrier to teaching our kids to cook. But you don’t have to get them to prepare a full three course meal; maybe they sit and watch you prep the ingredients. When they are older, they can help with some tasks, maybe it’s their special job to peel the vegetables. Although you can do the job in one-tenth of the time, it’s important to let them do it by themselves, even though it might be frustrating to watch.
- Cooking is a great activity
When the kids are all ‘bored’, there’s no need for Netflix or a trip to the mall; it’s a great opportunity to do some baking. Measuring ingredients (incidentally, a great lesson in math), stirring things, flattening the cookies with a fork- and then impatiently waiting for them to cook.
- Grow something
Some children are resistant to vegetables, fruit or anything suspiciously green. Even if you only have a balcony, you can buy a pot and soil and grow a tomato plant. Make it your child’s job to water the seedling and check for weeds. Not only are children more inclined to eat and enjoy foods they’ve grown, it also helps to teach them about healthy foods.
- Take turns in the kitchen
Mums and Dads often fall into their routines of cooking, with one person doing a lot more of the cooking than the other. Mix it up, with parents taking turns in the kitchen and showing off their skills. All children should learn to cook, and this gives them great role models to learn from.
- Shop together
Going grocery shopping with small children can be a nightmare. However, taking the time to go shopping together and letting them ‘help’ buy the fruit and vegetables can be beneficial at mealtime. The child knows they picked the carrots, and may be more interested in eating it, knowing the crucial part they played in the meal shopping.
You can also involve them in the meal-planning process, asking what they want to eat on their pizza, what kind of veggie chips they prefer to eat that week, or what fruit they want in their lunchbox.
Although it can slow down the shopping, these steps are all part of teaching a child how to appreciate their food. Take your time and enjoy the interaction with your kids. It gives them a lifetime of skills and an appreciation for food.