This is a partnered post.
Mealtimes with your family can often go either way. When you’ve got little ones, you either know that cooking is going to be a challenge, or they’re going to make it interesting. Whether you’re working with fussy eaters or kids that can’t keep still, mealtimes don’t always go to plan. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with it that way. In fact, you can change the course of your regular meal times, just by taking a different approach to how you usually approach them. To start you off on a great path, you may even want to think about cooking with your kids, and not just for them.
Trying to make simple, wholesome, and healthy food that everyone will love can be a challenge in itself. Throw in those fussy eaters or fidgeters, and it all gets harder. But what about working with them, to get them more involved and interested in food? You will often find that if you’re able to bring them into the food preparation process, that they will enjoy eating so much more and even be willing to try things they once declared they didn’t like. So let’s take a look at how you can make it happen.
Get Them Interested
One of the reasons why your kids may be distracted at mealtimes is because they have no interest in food. This can feel like a huge problem to overcome, but it’s not impossible. The solution is simple – you just need to get them interested. There are many ways that you can do this, but bringing them into the kitchen and encouraging them to cook with you in the first place is going to help you to get over that hurdle, as well as discouraging picky eating habits.
Take Them Shopping With You
This may be something that you tend to avoid out of ease, but taking your kids grocery shopping with you is one way to get them interested and more involved in the cooking process. When they get to pick out the ingredients, it can become fun for them. Plus, you may also want to ensure that you can involve them right from the start, which includes the grocery shopping process.
Ask For Their Input
You will also find that asking their opinion will help. Although you want to avoid the habit of them cooking their own meals every evening, you can ask the family as a whole what they feel like making tonight and allow them to have some input, so that you all make one set meal for everyone to enjoy. You may even want to allow each child (or even yourself and your husband) to pick on a different day.
Have Easy Recipe Cards To Pick From
However, to ensure that there is some method in your madness when it comes to meal choices, you should work from meal cards that they can choose from, rather than random meals. That way, not only will you be able to work with easy recipes that kids can make, like pizza or pancakes, but also healthy options too.
Give Them A Responsibility
Then, as the cooking process starts, you’re going to want to work with some level of responsibility. If you want them to enjoy what they’re doing, they should have a clearly defined role within the meal preparation, and not just as observers seat. Whether you give them eggs to beat or sparkling water to make up drinks pitchers with, choose this beforehand. Then they will feel like they’re able to contribute to the success of the meal.
And A Designated Work Space
For this, they’re going to need a designated work station. If you want them to be focused and enjoy the cooking process, you have to allow them to see their responsibility through. It will also help with mess and organization too. So get some kid-friendly cooking kit and make sure you’re able to prepare a place for them to work. There are lots of different things you may want to invest in for this, even just plastic bowls and kid-friendly cutlery, so you know they’re safe when they’re helping out.
Involve Them In Every Step
However, you want to make sure that they’re not isolated in any way. It’s important for them to be involved in everything if they’re going to become more interested in food. So remember to talk them through each process, including what they’re doing, why it’s important, and how it contributes to the meal, as well as what you and any others are doing. By doing this, you will be able to ensure that they stay interested and get excited about the result.
Play Around With The Presentation
But you also want this to be fun for them too. Although some elements of cooking aren’t going to be fun, one area that you can always play around with is the presentation. So, encourage them to be creative when putting the finishing touches of the meals together. You may even want to work with some fun recipes every once in awhile, or even to get your all started on a cooking journey together.
Practice Makes Perfect
And remember, that you’re going to want to keep this up – even if the first time is a disaster. In order for your kids to be able to enjoy cooking, they need to be able to practice. If you want to limit their involvement in evening meals to just once or twice a week, then bake with them in the afternoons or at weekends in the meantime. Because practice makes perfect.
Talk About The Ingredients
Finally, to ensure that you’re able to emphasize the importance of healthy during the entire process, you should make sure to talk about all the different healthy ingredients that you’re using. Educating your kids can often be a strong way to get them interested and conquer any previous fears they may have had with food. You just have to be able to try out different approaches to discover what will work best for your family.