Let’s be honest: If you relate to cooking as a chore—as a means to an end—chances are your kids feel the same way about it. In order to get your kids excited about cooking, you must first get excited yourself. There are many ways you can get your kids involved in cooking!
When your kids see you enjoying cooking, they’ll be more likely to agree to be your sous-chef. No one wants to be around cranky Mom or Dad, barking peeling and chopping orders. There some things you could do to make the process more fun for yourself.
- • Improve your knife skills. If you find chopping and dicing frustrating and annoying, chances are you don’t own the proper knives, or you aren’t using them correctly. When you have the appropriate instruments and employ the proper techniques, you’ll find that kitchen prep goes a lot smoother. You don’t need to go to culinary school for this one. Luckily you can find all the information you need about proper technique on the internet—make YouTube your best friend.
- • Put music on while you cook. Rocking out to your favorite tunes after a long day is a huge stress reliever. Alternatively, you can put on an interesting podcast or an audio book and dinner will be ready before you know it.
- • Plan meals. If you come home from work without a plan, dinner is likely to be a stressful run-around-with-your-head-chopped-off sort of task. You’re more likely to order in, or pick up greasy and processed fast-food, or to throw together mac and cheese from a box. Try sitting down on a Sunday and planning out meals for the whole week. Grocery shop after you’ve planned your meals and you’ll feel prepared every day of the week.
Okay, so you’re more relaxed… you’re excited to get your kids involved in cooking. But them? Not so much.
Your kids won’t want to cook when you yell them into the kitchen and throw a potato in their general direction (hopefully this is an exaggeration).
These are some things you can do to get your kids involved in cooking and get them excited about food!
1. Get inspired
- • Pictures of food are in now. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find an inspirational foodie on Instagram who dishes up healthy, hearty and mouth-watering plates. Browse Instagram and Pinterest with your kids and follow their lead. What do they think looks good enough to eat?
- • Buy your kids cookbooks. You can even bring them to the bookstore with you and let them pick one out that has pictures they like. Tell them to bookmark recipes they want to experiment with.
- • Cooking videos on YouTube are for any age. If you’d like to have younger kids involved in cooking, give them stirring and mixing tasks. No toddler would say no to “let’s make cookies!” A chocolate chip or two every once in a while wouldn’t hurt either.
2. Involve them in the whole process
- • Before cooking: Bookmarking recipes is a good place to start, but don’t exclude them from the rest of the process. Bring your children grocery shopping with you (after they’re eaten a big meal!). If your schedules don’t permit, have them list the ingredients needed for the recipes they’ve bookmarked, and make a shopping list together.
- • During the cooking process: let your kid choose one thing that he/she is in charge of—whether it is chopping, stirring, measuring or pouring—it’s your kid’s territory.
- • Clean-up: Teach your kids that clean-up is part of the cooking process. Instead of letting the counters accumulate grime and dishes pile in the sink, clean-up as you go—and have your kids do the same. That will save you—and your kids—from the dreaded after dinner clean-up routine that nobody enjoys.
Don’t forget that this is a good opportunity to bond. Ruling over the kitchen will make your children feeling excluded. Let them choose the music and set the pace. Make a fun drink to sip at as you cook.
3. Incorporate ingredients they love
Show them that their opinion matters by incorporating ingredients they love. Find new ways to use the same-old foods by exploring new recipes. Breakfast-for-dinner is a surefire way to get your kids excited about a meal. Who wouldn’t come to a table with the promise of omelets, chocolate-chip pancakes and waffles?! (You can find healthy versions of these things on the internet!)
4. Make home-made fast-food
Pizza and French-fries and burgers—oh my! Fast-food is fun, sure. But when you’re doing your best to stay healthy and make meals at home, fast-food is a sure way to cramp your style.
The good news is that anything made in a fast-food restaurant can be made at home. Home-made hamburgers in whole-wheat buns with a side of baked sweet-potato fries? Yes, please – give these recipes a try! Or, have a pizza-making contest with your kids. Each person makes an individual pizza with toppings of their choice. Best combination wins! (Go easy, judges.)
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
No one likes being micromanaged—not even your kids. If you’re watching them out of the corner of your eye the whole time, they’ll feel it. Give your kids age-appropriate tasks so that you don’t have to hover. And for heaven sakes, don’t cry over spilled milk. If your kids feel trusted, they’ll act responsibly.
Remember that pizza-making contest we discussed? Here’s a fool-proof whole wheat pizza-dough recipe to get you going!
Easy-Peasy Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough
Servings: 2-4 pizzas
1 packet active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp honey
2-2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1. In a small bowl, mix together ½ cup warm water with the sugar and the yeast. Stir and let sit 5-10 minutes until foamy.
2. At the same time, in a large bowl, combine 2 cups whole wheat flour and salt. Once the yeast mixture has foamed, add it to the large bowl. Add ½ cup warm water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and honey. Mix together.
3. Knead for 5 minutes, adding flour when necessary so that the dough is smooth and elastic, and not too sticky.
4. Shape dough into balls (if you want 2 big pizzas, shape 2 big balls, if you want 4 smaller pizzas, shape 4 small balls). Coat with remaining olive oil and place in a bowl with a towel or plastic wrap covering the dough. Put the dough in a warm place.
5. After 30-60 minutes the dough will have doubled in size. At this point, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Punch down the dough and roll it out into desired shape. Add toppings!
7. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and enjoy!
Make a pizza bar and include these items for creative and fun pizzas to get your kids involved in cooking!
- • Alfredo sauce (instead of tomato-based sauce)
- • Artichoke
- • Corn
- • Fresh basil
- • Goat cheese
- • Grated mozzarella
- • Mushrooms
- • Olives
- • Pepperoni
- • Pesto
- • Pineapple
- • Tomato-based pizza sauce
Get creative! And let your kids come up with crazy combinations you may just enjoy. Positive food associations and healthy eating start with good experiences in the kitchen at home. Show your kids that you enjoy the process—make them equal partners—and they’ll be whipping up healthy meals with you in no time!
Chef Jason Galletti’s passion for exceptional and unique food inspired him to bring together G`day Chef to life. For over 10 years now, Jason and his team has provided Melbourne Catering and event services with the newest and most delicious culinary trends.