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Why Getting Kids in the Kitchen Early is a Recipe for Success

Leah J
Posted by Leah J on Jun 25, 2024


In a world dominated by fast food and quick fixes, one of the most valuable gifts we can give our children is the skill of cooking. Teaching kids how to cook from a young age is more than just a practical life skill—it can lead them down a path to healthier eating habits, a broader palate, and a lifetime of culinary adventures. Getting kids involved in cooking can be one of the most valuable investments for their future. 

Kid using stand mixerKids become more open to trying new foods.

Children are naturally curious and that can extend to the foods they eat. One of the greatest benefits of involving kids in cooking is that they become more open to trying new foods. Preparing a dish allows them to explore different ingredients, textures, and flavors, fostering an adventurous spirit when it comes to eating. There’s research that has shown that children who cook are more open to tasting unfamiliar foods, leading to a more varied and nutritious diet. 

Kids are more likely to eat what they cook.

There is a special satisfaction in eating a meal that you have prepared yourself. For children, this sense of ownership over their food can lead to a greater willingness to eat what they've cooked. When they've put effort into making a meal, they are far more likely to eat and enjoy it. This can be particularly beneficial for parents of picky eaters. When kids participate in making their meals, they feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, which can evolve into healthier eating habits and less food waste. 

Cooking is a fantastic educational tool.

It introduces children to a variety of ingredients and cuisines, broadening their understanding of different cultures and food sources. Through cooking, kids learn about the nutritional value of various foods, where ingredients come from, and the importance of balanced meals. Instead of using grown-ups words that have no meaning to kids like protein, carbs and fats, I like to refer to different foods as “Superhero foods” and “Play foods” with my kids. Superhero foods are ones that we have every day to help us grow and think, while play foods are just for fun. This knowledge lays the foundation for making more informed food choices as they grow older.

Kid using Kitchenaid mixerKids learn life skills for the future.

Cooking is an essential life skill that children will carry into adulthood. Knowing how to prepare healthy, delicious meals fosters independence and self-reliance. As kids grow and eventually move out on their own, the ability to cook can save money, enhance their health, and provide a creative outlet. These skills are particularly empowering in a society where convenience foods often dominate the market. 

Kids in the kitchen may reduce picky eating habits.

Children who are involved in the cooking process are generally less likely to be picky eaters. Exposure to a wide range of ingredients and learning how to put them into meals can introduce them to foods. By regularly engaging in cooking, kids learn to appreciate the flavors and textures of various ingredients, reducing their reluctance to try new things. It’s not a magic fix, but it will help over time! 

Getting kids involved in the kitchen strengthens family bonds.

Cooking together is a shared activity that promotes communication, cooperation, and fun. It provides an opportunity for parents to pass down family recipes and traditions, creating lasting memories. These experiences can instill a lifelong love and appreciation for cooking and eating together. It’s the joy of cooking (and eating) together!

Family making pizzaNot sure how to start working with your kiddos in the kitchen? Here are some tips:

  1. Start Small: Begin with simple tasks like washing vegetables, stirring, or measuring ingredients.
  2. Age-Appropriate Tasks: Assign tasks based on your child's age and abilities. Young children can mix batter, while older kids can learn to chop and sauté.
  3. Be Patient: There will be a mess or two when cooking with kids and it can be time-consuming, but the benefits are worth it.
  4. Make it Fun: Turn cooking into a game or a creative activity. Let kids experiment with flavors and textures.
  5. Involve Them in Planning: Let children help choose recipes and plan meals. This involvement increases their interest and investment in the food they cook and eat.
  6. Try out a Kids Cooking Camp: The Chopping Block offers summer cooking camps for kids starting at age 7 through 19. If you aren’t sure about how to begin at home, they can sign up with a friend or two as a fun and new activity. 

Incorporating cooking into your child's routine is a gift that will keep on giving. It’s an investment in their health, their culinary skills, and their willingness to explore the world of food. So, grab an apron, gather some ingredients, and invite your little ones into the kitchen—there’s a whole world of flavors waiting to be discovered together.

Check out The Chopping Block’s kids and teens cooking camps. They are happening all summer long, but sign up now because space fills up fast!

See all of our Kids/Teen Summer Camps

Topics: cooking, kids, teens, teen, teen camp, kids camp

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