Looking for a healthy habit for you and your family in the new year? Try spending more time cooking with kids in the kitchen. Better yet, you get to eat what you make together!
There are many benefits to eating together, including better nutrition, better school performance, and better social adjustment for everyone involved: kids, youth and adults. Many different family members can help get kids more comfortable in the kitchen, especially grandparents. Because grandparents often have more time to spend with children throughout the week-day than some other family members, they can truly invest time and effort cooking and eating together.
In doing research for Better Together, we asked families what meals kids often made with grandparents and the top three were random salads, tacos, and pizza. The magic with kids and pizza is really in the dough. Kids can pull it into any shape they want, and it always tastes good. These recipes are great because they are all build-your-own. Everyone can add as little or as much of anything they want and there is no right or wrong.
The role of baking and making sweets is also quite powerful in teaching children how to become comfortable in the kitchen. Our first memories of cooking often involve making some sort of dessert, cookie, or cake with the help of a family member. Measuring the various ingredients together and going through the step-by-step process of a dessert recipe is perfect for all kids to gain confidence with cooking. Each person gets a task, and everyone feels like they helped make the final product.
From the earliest time I can remember, I was always helping with something in the kitchen. My fondest memory was making a heart shaped chocolate cake with my mother for my birthday. It was September and I must have been about 5 years old. I remember searching through her cookbook for the recipe, an old green-polka dot binder with random newspaper clippings and photocopied recipes from cookbooks she had collected over the years. I remember us measuring the flour, scoop by scoop into a large bowl; next some sugar and cocoa. I remember her holding the bowl and I got to scrape the batter into the pan. I got to watch it rise as it baked. And then we ate it, together.
If you are looking for inspiration for what to make, here are some great beginner cookbooks. Over time, and as your kid’s confidence grows, you will be surprised with the amazing and nutritious creations they will make.
Cooking with Children by Marion Cunningham
Fanny at Chez Panisse by Alice Waters
This year, and the many more to come, experience the joys of cooking and eating together—whether in your family or with other groups of people. We know it's not always easy, but we're all in this together!
Wondering what to make first? Try Mom’s Best Double Chocolate Brownies.