MISSION, Kan., July 14, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — (Family Features) Planning, preparing, serving and cleaning up after mealtimes are skills that can be beneficial to everyone. Yet when it comes to meal prep, many families find it easier to tell children to go play rather than bringing them into the kitchen to help create meals.
“One of the best ways to encourage children to try new foods or simply eat their vegetables is to allow them the opportunity to plan and prepare a meal,” said Emily Hicks, a registered dietitian nutritionist for KinderCare Learning Centers. “Involving children in meal planning, preparation and serving in age-appropriate ways helps give them some autonomy in a world in which they often feel they do not have many choices. This can help reduce stress and food fights at mealtime, creating a more peaceful and enjoyable experience for everyone.”
Meal preparation can also bring certain classroom lessons such as counting and fractions to life as children measure ingredients. It can also be an opportunity for an impromptu science lesson about the parts of plants and animals people eat and the nutritional benefits of healthy foods.
Consider these tips to get kids more involved in mealtimes:
Choose mealtimes when the family is typically together and make preparation a team effort. Allow children to pick out vegetables or other items at the grocery store (or from the fridge, freezer or pantry) to prepare. Alternatively, if you have a few meal options planned for the week, children can help decide what to make on which days. The key is to empower children to make choices, thus helping develop a sense of responsibility and encouraging variety in food choices.
Allow children to help wash produce, stir food in mixing bowls, get tools like cutting