If there’s one thing I enjoy, it’s food. I love baking, cooking, and eating. I also love planning GOOD food for my family. Good food doesn’t just happen, you have to think and plan ahead, and commit to spending time to eating healthily.
I want my children to enjoy cooking and eating.
I want food to be a pleasant and positive experience for them.
After all, you kinda have to have it your whole life. Might as well make it good if you can, right? So here are a few things we have done to make food fun, interesting, and healthy for our kids.
We involve them in the process.
- It starts even before you go shopping. Ask them what their favorite meals are. Plan them in on purpose.
- When you go to the grocery store give young readers the list, or have them help find “Aisle #8”.
- Compare prices. “This kind of peanut butter is $2.80, and this kind is $3.50. Which is cheaper?”
- Teach them to compare healthiness of different items. “This cereal has 11 grams of sugar in a serving. We want less than 5. Oh, you think Uber Exciting Fruity Tye Dye Chunks looks yummy? How many grams of sugar does that kind have? 15?! Is that more or less than 5? Oh well that has too much sugar in it!”
- When you pick out fresh fruits and veggies talk about how they grew (On a tree? Bush? Underground?), and what makes a “good” pick (A good tomato is nice and red, slightly soft, with no squishy spots or splits.).
- When it’s check out time, give them items to put on the belt.
- At home, have them help unload the groceries and put them away. This way they learn about sorting and where different foods belong. (Cheese in the fridge, apples on the counter, can of beans in the pantry!)
- When it’s time to cook, give them little jobs. “H, I need a stick of butter.” “S, give me a big spoon.” “Thanks! Here, put the spoon in this bowl. Would you like to stir?”
- Demonstrate how to fix different foods… like how to chop an onion or an avacado. Keep a commentary going! Tell them about why it has a particular kind of skin. “Onions are papery to keep it dry, avacados are thick to protect the soft insides.”
- Let them lick the spoon. Seriously.
- Have them help set the table. My girl’s favorite is when we need lots of condiments for burgers. They stack up the mayo, ketchup and mustard into a tower on the table sometimes. It’s hilarious.
- Eat TOGETHER. We make it a point to sit down together, give thanks for God’s provision together, and have distractions set aside for that little bit of time as much as possible.
- Clean up together. One child can grab all the spoons, another can put away the bread, and JE or I will put away leftovers into containers for lunches. Delegate out all the little jobs that take 20 trips into the kitchen. Children love to help if it’s fun.
This has been something we do step by step. It sounds like a lot all at once… and some days I JUST WANT TO COOK ALONE. And I do. And that’s ok. But I encourage you, try one or two of these and see how your child’s eyes light up. If the first couple of tries don’t work, you don’t feel like you’re getting through to them, or they are wary of “work”, try having them pick out a special fruit or veggie you’ve never tried before. When you get home, google how to prepare it, and dive in together. You’ll make memories, and maybe, just maybe end up with an end product that is a new favorite! We did this with artichoke recently. I had never cooked one, and they looked pretty weird. But it was letter “A” week and S really wanted to try one. So try one we did! It was a hilarious adventure, and the girls loved it. 🙂 And it wasn’t too complicated! She just asked me this AM if we could get one again sometime. She’s almost 4 and she’s asking for stuff like artichokes. I LOVE it!!
Just for fun, I asked the girls what their favorite foods are… their first responses were “Ice Cream!” so I figured I better get more specific. 😉
S Favorite Foods:
Vegetable: broccoli and tomatoes
Meat: Fish. (She says she loves lamb too. We have it once a year for Passover and she remembers it. It’s special.)
Sweets: Strawberry Ice Cream
Healthy Food: Broccoli
Grossest Food: Eyes
H Favorite Foods:
Meat: Fish (I bake tilapia once in a great while. She eats more than JE)
Sweets: Vanilla ice cream and cake
Healthy Food: Pizza
Grossest Food: Mouse
So there you have it. 😛