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Meal Planning

The joy of cooking - with your kids

Kids in the kitchen. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. Right?

But cooking with your kids can be fun. And because kids like to eat the things they make, they may say yum instead of yuck to healthy foods.

Here are some suggestions on how to turn preparing meals into a family fun night.

Put little minds and hands to work. Start by letting your child pick a recipe or a favorite meal to prepare. Shop together for ingredients. The supermarket is a good place to talk about how to choose healthy foods.

In the kitchen, give your child age-appropriate things to do. Toddlers can carry spoons, bowls or ingredients from one place to another. They can also tear up greens for a salad, mix ingredients or help rinse fruits and vegetables. Older kids can learn skills like cracking an egg and measuring ingredients.

Kids of all ages can help set the table. And after the meal, show kids that everyone should help clean up.

Think about these tips as you go:

  • Make handwashing the first step.
  • Never leave young kids alone in the kitchen.
  • Take time to talk about each step.
  • Try not to worry about spills or mistakes.
  • Cook with several different kinds of foods.
  • Look for ways to teach safe food handling. For example, leftovers should go into the refrigerator right away.

The cooking skills and confidence you give your kids now can last a lifetime. And that gives them a head start toward better health.

Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Academy of Pediatrics

Nutrition Basics