Kitchen Disasters & Cooking Together

Last night we attended a parent meeting at my daughter's school where we discussed healthy lifestyles for families. While I was once again reminded that we watch way too much TV in our house, I also learned that:
A) The food pyramid is different now. Did you know that? 
B) You should let your children help you shop for and cook meals.

I was lucky to grow up in a family where I saw my mother and grandmothers cook constantly. I still remember my first "Better Homes & Garden Junior Cook Book" and the Potato-Chip Crusted Chicken I made all on my own.

I've been letting CeCe cook with me in various ways since she was about 2. Here are my tips for getting your kids involved in their food prep.

1) Shopping can be an adventure. We started by making out a shopping list using pictures, and got CeCe her own cart. We treated grocery shopping like a scavenger hunt, which you can read about here.

2) Baking incorporates many skills. Talk about math as your child uses measuring spoons and cups. Let them work those motor skills by stirring and pouring. Cookie cutters are a great way to talk about shapes. Plus you get cookies out of it, so why not?

CeCe and her great-grandmother prepare cookies.

3) Let them be in charge of something. In an effort to encourage fresh veggies, CeCe is the Official Salad Maker. We give her lettuce to tear and various chopped veggies to distribute as she pleases. This gives her a sense of control over her choices and pride in the dish she prepared all by herself.
Official Salad Maker, reporting for duty.
4) Buy some aprons. It may seem silly since they won't at all prevent a mess on your child's clothes, but having a special apron for cooking with mom or dad can make Kitchen Duty feel a privilege and not a chore.

5) Don't expect miracles with food aversions. I know CeCe will still gag over broccoli and kale. But that doesn't mean I eliminate them from our lives. Even if she won't eat it, I still get her to help prepare it with the long-term goal of maybe, just maybe, one day she will give it a try.
CeCe does not love eating asparagus, but she loves snapping the woody ends off.

We have our fair share of pizza nights in this house, but we try our best to make healthy choices. Do you have any tips to add about cooking with little ones?

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