What does healthy cooking with kids even mean? Is it possible to achieve? Won’t it cost me my whole paycheck? We get it! You have questions. Luckily, we have some answers.
As we have been doing this fatherhood thing for two decades (gasp!) we’ve learned a thing or two about how to get kids to eat well…and live to tell the story. There are a few hard truths we have learned along the way.
6 Healthy Eating Truths Our Kids Have Taught Us
- If it doesn’t LOOK good, they won’t eat it. They don’t care how delicious it tastes.
- Kids love to eat what they have helped cook.
- It is important to try to understand any eating differences that come up instead of ruling the kitchen like a dictator. (When our daughter became a vegetarian, we learned this the hard way.)
- Taste buds do change. You have to keep trying to get them to eat healthy food. Maybe one day they will like it.
- Vegetable gardening, or simply growing food or herbs in a pot on the window sill, is an amazing yet subtle push to get kids interested in healthy cooking.
- Kids are never, ever too old to want a delicious home-cooked meal (which can also be packed with good-for-you foods).
Why is Healthy Cooking with Kids Important?
There are lots of reasons why healthy cooking with kids is so important. One of the top reasons for us is that it can give them a better idea of what goes in the food we are putting on their plate. They can see the ingredients one by one. Using their other senses, they can stimulate their naturally curious minds to feel and smell and see the meal being prepared. They can get to experience the meal, rather than simply be forced to eat it on demand.
5 Reasons Healthy Cooking With Kids Should Be On Your To Do List
Check out some other reasons to get cooking with your kids.
- Cooking together helps kids feel connected. They will be more connected to you as well as your culture and shared history.
- Kids who cook with their parents better understand the time, care and preparation needed to get a meal on the table. You may find you have more appreciative and grateful kids!
- It is amazing how much kids can learn from cooking. This is especially true if you have a child who is more of a hands-on learner. Math lessons are practically built in!
- Cooking together creates memories. These years we have with our kids are fleeting. It doesn’t seem that way when you are in the thick of it, but take it from us – they go fast. Make the most of the time you have under one roof.
- By practicing healthy cooking with kids, you are teaching them a life skill they won’t forget. Give them the tools they need to thrive once they leave the nest.
What Should I Cook With My Kids?
There are thousands of recipes specifically geared toward cooking with children. But don’t get overwhelmed. Don’t overthink it. Have them help you make the things you want them to eat. Here are some healthy items you can make together:
- Veggies and dip
Honestly, the list is endless. Have your kids help you decide what to make. They may surprise you with what they are interested in trying.
10 Healthy(ish) Recipes Kids Can Make (and will eat)
We have enjoyed cooking with our two girls since they were little. At first, they would just help us wash the fruits and vegetables. When they got older and we could trust them with a knife, they would be wonderful sous chefs helping us get everything cut up for any of our recipes. After they got to be teens it was fun to see them show off their skills and whip up something for the family all by themselves.
(We’ve got to say though that it is also a little sad. Wasn’t it just yesterday we were making sure they didn’t touch a hot pan?!?!)
Together our family has made hundreds of recipes over the years. Heck I even wrote a cookbook! (You can buy it here if you’re interested.) There are a few dishes I continue to make which are healthier than most and taste absolutely delicious.
These are 10 of our favorites:
10. Italian Meatloaf
Health Cooking With Kids is Not a Chore
Healthy cooking with kids shouldn’t be a chore. You should not feel obligated. Some days you don’t have the time, patience or inclination to cook with your kids. That’s OK too! Try to find time when you can though. The memories you create when cooking with your kids will last a lifetime. Even if it is only a few times a year!