You may get your children to cook dinner at house

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As the mother of two young girls, I have found that teaching children how to prepare meals has also been one of my most rewarding and enjoyable experiences as parents – although it comes with its challenges. My daughters have watched me in the kitchen since they were toddlers – basically since they could eat avocado puree.

This is my first advice: start early. If you allow your children to watch you cook and involve them in simple food preparation from a young age, they will do a lot more than help them feel comfortable in the kitchen. It also increases the chances that they will enjoy eating healthy foods.

If your kids weren’t interested in cooking as toddlers, it’s not too late to start. Elementary and middle school aged children are all at a wonderful stage to learn how to cook and prepare meals at home.

Here are some ideas from my time in the kitchen with my daughters. You can help build your children’s confidence in the kitchen so that they can feel independent when they live in a dorm, apartment, or anywhere outside of their home. And don’t be surprised if they switch roles and one day you are the one to hear, “Dinner is served!”

How to start your kids cooking at home

Here’s how your children learn helpful cooking skills so that they can eat healthy and nutritious food when they are no longer at home:

1. Make it fun. Take the stress out of the equation and make your class a connecting experience. Allow time to take your child to the grocery store or farmers market and ask them to choose ingredients they would like to eat. When you get home, you can look up recipes that include these foods. The reverse is also possible: Search online or in magazines for interesting recipes and buy the ingredients you need.

One spring my daughter picked out radishes at the local farmers’ market and we roasted them. Radishes were really fun to enjoy, mostly because they weren’t as bitter as they were in their raw form. We also bought ramps and made pasta out of them, and we made strawberry cake after picking strawberries – that was definitely a fun recipe.

When your child is older, you can ask them to prepare a special menu in advance and devote a weekend to preparing this meal together. This is also an opportunity to give some nutritional education about what a balanced meal might look like: a plate of healthy protein (for growth), vegetables (for vitamins and fiber), and whole grains (for energy).

Another fun idea is to give your child their own kitchen cabinet to store their own cooking utensils. I did that with my daughters; they have their own kitchen cupboards with age-appropriate cooking utensils and their own embroidered aprons. Here is a list of the most important tools and staples every home cooking – including young chefs – has! – should be close at hand.

Roasting radishes can be more fun - and less bitter - than eating them raw.

2. Start small. Choosing a simple side dish, salad or snack is a manageable option for your children to feel comfortable in the kitchen. You can choose something that is easy to make without an oven or stove, like a smoothie or hummus recipe.

My daughter loves making raspberry chocolate chia parfaits. They are easy to make and fun to watch the chia seeds spread when mixed with almond milk. The recipe doesn’t require heat, but it does require the use of an immersion blender, which is a neat way to mix ingredients together. Try Lisa’s Chocolate Strawberry Chia Seed Pudding Parfait

If your children are younger and cannot cook on their own, start small by asking them to help you prepare the meal. They can be helpful in mixing pasta and vegetables with sauce; Wash and dry the lettuce leaves, shake the spices and peel the corn.

3. Prepare lunch together. Whether you have a toddler, teenager, or teenager, home lunch is a great way to teach your kids the cooking skills.

When it comes to making lunch, kids ages 4 and up can spread cream cheese or a nut- or nut-free butter on bread and puree tuna or hard-boiled eggs for the egg salad, explains Jessica Levinson, a registered nutritionist and culinary nutrition expert in Westchester, New York .

Try Lisa’s Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Older kids can help chop vegetables, make a large pot of cereal, or bake bread and muffins, according to Victoria Stein Feltman, a registered nutritionist and co-founder of Apple to Zucchini, a source of healthy eating for parents and families.

Meal sets, including sushi sets, can help children become familiar with ingredient measurements and recipe instructions.

4. Exit the kitchen. At some point, independence becomes a priority – not the perfectly moist muffin or the most meticulous casserole. Completing a recipe is really a food science experiment that can be improved upon over time.

After your child has learned how to use the oven and stove, and you’ve clearly explained the principles of food safety – including hand and surface washing, avoiding cross-contamination, cooking to a safe internal temperature, and chilling food quickly – it’s time to close the kitchen left to promote independence.

Try Lisa’s Alles Bagel Cauliflower Tots

By leaving the kitchen, you are showing your child that you trust them, that they will practice the skills you have taught them. It enables them to do a careful job and also teaches them that it is okay to make mistakes. You will know by trying their creations!

5. Consider buying meal sets. Meal sets can make the transition to independent cooking easier, as they usually come with most of the ingredients and clear instructions. Sometimes you can access videos of the recipes.

Try Lisa’s watermelon and lime slushies

During the pandemic, I stocked up on some fun meal sets, including sushi, shrimp tacos, and cinnamon-raisin bagels. Simple baking mixes can also help boost children’s confidence and autonomy in the kitchen.

The process of making turkey meatballs is not that different from the Play-Doh rolling balls.

6. Look for cooking-related learning opportunities. Taking a cooking class can help children build their confidence and improve their culinary skills while preparing foods that they enjoy. Taste Buds Kitchen offers both in-person and online cooking classes, while Raddish Kids offers meal sets with recipe instructions as well as online cooking videos showing how to make scrambled eggs and your own salad vinaigrette.

YouTube also has a wide variety of cooking videos that teach you a range of skills, including how to cook the perfect pasta and how to cook chicken parmigiana.

Try Lisa’s chickpea flour crust pizza

Watching a children’s cooking show can also inspire children. My daughters watched a few seasons of “Chopped Junior” during the pandemic and loved taking in the kitchen and preparing challenging meals for girls and boys their age!

And don’t forget the old fashioned cookbooks. Some of my favorites are Kid Chef, Kid Chef Every Day, and Cooking Class.