Updated: May 5
As a parent, it can feel like meal time never ends from meal planning to cooking to learning a new recipe to cleaning. Parents young and old can feel like it’s easier to cook alone to offer a clean workspace and easy kitchen space to optimize focus to get the recipe right. But it’s way more important to cook with your kids than you may think. While messier, cooking with your children can build life skills in a fun way.
Meal planning takes a lot of brain power from orchestrating between different meal and nutrition groups and family taste preferences, but most importantly - grocery shopping. While any child will ask to plan meals to focus on sweets or chicken nuggets, it’s important to teach them why they can't rely on the same food for every meal. Many children learn about grocery shopping at young ages, but cooking with their parents teaches them how important that grocery list really is. But also following a recipe can be a great way to learn how to plan which items to cook first by how long it takes to cook each item.
While planning a meal takes a lot of patience every step of the way, cooking a meal takes even more patience that can be important for a child to experience. Staying patient while cooking a meal can be quite rewarding when it all comes together in the end. For instance, you could bake cookies at their required temperature for 30 minutes or increase the temperature to lower the time - but there’s almost a guarantee that the cookies that took the full 30 minutes to bake will taste so much better.
Science & Math Concepts
Following a recipe can teach kids how valuable math can be with different colors or flavors. Some simple math activities can include sugar or butter to give children some real world math examples that can showcase why the appropriate equation really is important to find. Cooking as a whole can be a great way to teach a child about science including heat and chemistry. Many schools include simple egg activities like egg dying or even boiling or frying an egg so children can see with their own eyes how an egg changes when heat is added.
Children can learn about nutrition when they are involved in what they, and their families, are eating. It’s easy for a child to want cereal or pizza for every meal, but when they are helping with the meal planning and cooking, they can learn way more easily why they can’t just have cereal for every meal. Colorful pictures of the food pyramid in the classroom can only go so far in a child’s understanding of nutrition.
It’s important for children to learn from a young age how to stay safe in the kitchen. While it’s also important for parents to baby-proof kitchen cabinets and appliances, children will need to learn why the kitchen is not the safest place to be unsupervised and they will need to learn in a safe way. Cooking will teach children how different appliances work, and how to behave safely around them as well as how to remain safe around different ingredients in the kitchen.
Cooking is a rewarding activity for any age. But the real reward that comes from cooking with your children is the family bonding time that you will remember forever.
Let us know your family’s favorite bonding recipe so we can try it too!