How to Impart a Love for Home Cooking
A few days ago, I witnessed a ‘sad’ scene at our local post office.
A toddler, tired of waiting in line with his mom, threw a major tantrum because he was bored; he wanted his mom’s iPhone to pass the time.
When she couldn’t take the screaming any longer, she acquiesced and pulled the iPhone out of her handbag. He started playing with the game apps and silence ensued.
Is technology the new go-to pacifier for young children? What has happened to combating toddler boredom with conversations, riddles, or ‘I –Spy’games?
Perhaps my views are old-fashioned.
But from my 18-year parenting perspective, technology is not a substitute for exposing our kids to things that really count. Like human interaction. Getting outdoors and playing. Going to the zoo. Playing in tide pools and sprinklers. Exercising. Reading books. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention setting the stage for eating healthful foods.
One of the most overlooked life skills is preparing and cooking homemade food. Buying or growing real food, and learning how to cook are the keys to good health. And the best news is that young children are eager to be involved with kitchen and garden duties if we let them.
Here are 7 tips for creating life-long cooks, and lovers of fresh, whole foods.
1) Start Young.
Youngsters are like sponges. They soak up experiences with their senses, especially sight, touch, and smell. But don’t worry if you’re late to the game - it’s never too late to start.
2) Carve out time.
When you’re not rushing to make breakfast, lunch or dinner, make time to incorporate cooking and baking into your children’s schedule. Youngsters can locate ingredients and place them on the counter, make a salad by cutting the lettuce leaves by hand, or help stir a batter. As they build confidence in their skills, you’ll be able to give them more responsibility.
3) Teach knife skills.
For older children, learning how to chop, slice and dice is critical for all food preparation. The more practice they get, the faster they’ll prep.
4) Plant a Garden.
If space and time permit, planting and harvesting a home garden is a wonderful way to spend time outside while watching your hard work yield tasty results.
5) Take children grocery shopping.
There’s an art to picking out good food. Teach your children how to read ingredient labels. Avoid unhealthy, processed packaged foods.
Roam the perimeter aisle and pick out fresh produce. Buy in-season for the freshest, most nutritious fruits and vegetables. If fresh is unavailable or too expensive, choose vegetables from the frozen section.
6) Teach children about food safety.
Make sure children wash their hands before meal preparation. Help them to avoid cross-contamination as they handle eggs and raw meats.
Teach children not to lick raw dough or batter that contains eggs.
Use separate cutting boards for produce and meat. Perhaps a small, separate board for onions and garlic, too.
7) Make it fun!
Treat kitchen time, grocery shopping, and gardening as ways to be creative and to relax. Your children will certainly appreciate these skills as they go off to college and beyond.
What do you think about learning how to cook as an important life skill? Thoughts?