Ask any parent of a young child, and they’ll likely tell you their youngster is, or was, a picky eater. This is common, and it’s your job as their parent to encourage them to try new foods.
One way to do this is to get your kids involved in the cooking process. When kids help out, they are more inclined to eat what they’ve made. If your child is a picky eater, try these tips to get them excited about cooking and, hopefully, about trying new flavors.
1. Let Them Help Pick Out New Cookware
A budding chef needs the right tools to hone their craft, so take your little one on a shopping trip to buy their own cookware set. Be sure to look for non-stick pots and pans, so there’s no hassle when cooking, and let them choose a set in their favorite color. This new set may not match your kitchen, but it will surely get your child excited about cooking.
2. Go Grocery Shopping Together
Before heading out to the grocery store, sit down together and plan that evening’s meal. Look through cookbooks or online recipes, and let your child create a menu complete with meat, veggies, and of course, a dessert. When you’re both satisfied with the menu, hop in the car and go hunting and foraging (aka grocery shopping) for supplies.
Use the trip as a learning opportunity, asking questions like, “How much would two of these be?” or “How many of these do we need for the whole family?”
3. Assign Age Appropriate Tasks
Children of all ages can help out when preparing meals. Just make sure the tasks you assign are age appropriate. Obviously, you don’t want to allow your toddler to stir a pan on the stovetop, but they can surely scoop ingredients or push a button on the food processor and feel as if they’re a big help in the kitchen.
Even babies can get in on the action in the kitchen. Give your little one plastic measuring cups and wooden spoons to play with as you cook. You can also give them age-appropriate foods to nibble on while you and the older children prepare the meal.
4. Taste Everything!
Kids don’t know they like or don’t like something until they taste it. Cooking together is a great time to explore different flavors, textures, and colors. For example, if you’re cutting bell peppers to add to the main course, taste the raw vegetable together and discuss its color, flavor, and texture, as well as how it will change after it’s cooked.
5. Plant a Garden
It doesn’t have to be a big deal – even a pot of fresh basil will do. When kids plant, nurture, harvest, and then cook their own foods, they are more apt to eat them. If space permits, consider growing various herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, green beans, peas, and even pumpkins. The plethora of fresh foods will encourage their love of cooking, and it’ll allow you to teach them about proper storage and canning to make the foods last.
6. Visit a Farmer’s Market
Farmers’ markets are great places to discover new foods. There are so many different types of produce in just as many colors. It’s a feast for the eyes and pure joy for the tastebuds when you and your child put these foods to use.
Kids can be picky eaters, but if you follow the tips above, you can get them excited about cooking and, in turn, encourage them to try new things.