How do you go about getting in the kitchen with kids and boosting their confidence in their cooking abilities? I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for you! This post was sponsored by the National 4-H Council as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
When I was a child, I used to love cooking and baking with my parents. They had an open concept kitchen with a large island that served as both a prep station and our dining table. I remember lazy weekends stirring tomato sauce on the stovetop and churning homemade ice cream in our Mother’s antiquated ice cream machine. You know, the ones that required salt and a hand crack that you had to manually turn for hours?
But no matter what we were making, I just loved being in the kitchen with them. It was a special time for family bonding where my siblings and I could talk to our parents about our day. As we chopped vegetables for dinner, we told them about our school day. As we set the table, we prattled on about our friends. During dinner, we fussed about some new vegetable they were making us try. And over dessert, we talked about our hopes and dreams for the following day.
So it’s no wonder that I place so much importance on bringing your kids into the kitchen as soon as possible. Aside from learning much-needed life skills, it also teaches them that a family unit must function together to achieve harmony. Or at least that’s how I see it. So how do you go about getting in the kitchen with kids if you aren’t already? How do you boost their confidence in their cooking abilities? Well, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for you!
Getting In The Kitchen With Kids & Boosting Their Confidence
1.) Give Them Age-Appropriate Tasks To Do
In order to build their confidence up, try to give them tasks that they can do successfully and with relative ease at first. For example, my 11-year-old is certainly capable of using a sharp knife to chop vegetables, but my five-year-old is not. Her hands are simply not big enough to safely use the knife. So she is in charge of setting the table with all of the cutlery, place settings and silverware.
When it comes to recipes, my five-year-old loves making our nut butter muffins because she just has to dump everything into the blender and turn it on. Obviously, I help her put them in the oven, but she can pretty much make these muffins on her own. On the other hand, my eleven-year-old son isn’t a fan of the oven, so I like to put him in charge of slicing summer vegetables for our Mom’s tomato zucchini bake recipe. He can handle a sharp knife and it forces him to pay close attention to the task at hand. Both children get to feel success when the finished product comes out of the oven!
2.) Let Them Be Involved In Meal Planning
In our kitchen, we have a chalkboard menu. Every Sunday, the kids are in charge of cleaning it off and helping us plan out the next week’s menu. For the most part, my husband and I stay out of the decision-making. If they choose to eat the same thing each week (hello, chicken tetrazzini and chicken chow mein!), we mostly just go with it. This way, they don’t complain because they were in charge of the menu in the first place.
However, as adults, we do sick and tired of eating the same old thing, so to help them come up with new ideas, we leave some of our favorite cookbooks out on display in the dining room. They are full of mouth-watering pictures and we encourage them to flip the cookbooks often. We’re always surprised when we hear them say, “Oh, that looks good. I’d eat that.” They also like to check out our blog for ideas too. For some reason, they get a kick out of seeing all of our family’s favorite recipes featured on it. (Silly kids!)
3.) Encourage Them To Use Their Imagination
Once a month, we’ll ask the kids who wants to be the Chef. It’s an odd duck kind of game where we let one of them make something on the fly. Sometimes, it’s pretty good. Other times, it’s barely edible. But regardless, it lets them experiment with food, eat it, and learn why the flavors worked together or failed miserably.
This game started way back when my daughter was about five years old. She wanted to make soup in the slow cooker. I forget the exact name of it, but it involved radishes, carrots, and baby spinach. The end result had to be pureed in the blender just so we could get it all down, but thanks to a large helping of parmesan, we were all able to enjoy small ramekins of it.
4.) Help Them
Our kids know that we’re there to help them in the kitchen. If they need help, we’re always there, but if they want to fly solo, that’s okay too. We’re always nearby to make sure they don’t get hurt, but otherwise, we’re happy to let them take the reigns. We encourage them to do as much as they can on their own – making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,
We encourage them to do as much as they can on their own – making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, toasting waffles, getting milk, collecting the chickens’ eggs, and so forth – because we know that it’s important to teach our kids how to plan, prep and prepare their meals now, so that they can be healthy adults later.
4-H Food Smart Families
Did you know that nearly 16 million children live in households that are food insecure? This means that they don’t have consistent access to food throughout the year. Could you imagine? So 4-H Food Smart Families decided to create more food secure homes by teaching families how to plan, shop and prepare healthy meals on a budget. Since 2011, UnitedHealthcare and 4-H have partnered together to deliver healthy living programs to more than 340,000 youth and their families in 14 states. Isn’t that amazing?
Teens as Teachers
Leveraging the proven influence of young people, the Food Smart Families program engages teens to empower their peers and families to help them establish life-long healthy habits. To date, more than 400 youth have trained to be Teens as Teachers and now serve as role models and mentors, educating younger youth and empowering their parents and families to shop better and cook smarter today.
The program engages youth at a critical age for acquiring new skills and establishing behaviors that become sustainable, healthy habits for their families and communities tomorrow. You can see how Food Smart Families has impacted a teen leader by watching this video here.
Numerous positive changes in youth behavior have been a result of 4-H Food Smart Families like:
- 90% of youth participants now think being active is fun and good for fitness
- 89% now encourage their families to eat meals together
- 87% said their families have purchased healthier foods
- 86% now eat fruit for a snack over unhealthier options
We think this model is a great resource for families all across the US. By educating our children at an early age about the food they need to eat, we can help them plan for their own futures. Want to learn more? Follow 4-H on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Want to learn more about getting in the kitchen with kids?
- Healthy Eating With Kids: 6 Tips For Parents
- Popcorn Trail Mix Recipe
- Banana Spinach Smoothie Kids Love