Involving your kids in the kitchen enhances their appreciation and basic knowledge of different foods and good nutrition. You can teach them safe ways to handle food as well as simple cooking techniques. Plus, the time spent together is invaluable family time and encourages a lifetime of healthy eating.
I like to look in various magazines, cookbook newspaper ads,, and even old menus for inspiration on what to cook. Now don’t get me wrong, I have also passed by other people and have secretly drooled at what they are indulging.
For us, not much is off limits. There are many ways to make just about everything healthier and tastier to enjoy.
Here’s how my large family create a healthy meal together.
1. We look to see what we have and note what we need. Coupons can be grabbed from the Sunday paper and online. In the fridge, we look for:
- Enough of the ingredient for the recipe
- Something everyone can and will want to eat.
2.We determine who will do what. This is based on each ones age and ability to safely follow directions. There are six children in the home ranging from two to sixteen; a helper or two is never hard to find.
For most children you can give the following kitchen jobs:
2-4- year olds children can stir, roll, and even mash ingredients in a large deep bowl. This age group, however, needs very close adult supervision since their dexterity and motor skills are still developing.
5-7 year olds can help with reading recipes, measuring, juicing, and prepping, and gathering certain ingredients. They may still need reminders to watch their fingers during grating and peeling.
8-11 year olds can cut, use specialty appliances like the panini press, waffle, ice cream maker, bigger knives and maybe even able to roast veggies. Now with a grasp of some basic cooking skills and an appreciation for the rules of the kitchen, young cooks are ready to take on more complex tasks using more kitchen equipment. Of course, close and constant supervision are required at all times.
12 & up* This group can place and remove food from the oven, and even help create a healthy menu for an entire week.
Here’s one of our weekly meals. Lasagna
- 1 pound dry pasta
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/2 garlic clove chopped
- 1 pound lean ground turkey* (meat is optional- we use meat alternatives)
- 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
- 8 ounces muenster cheese (we dice it our self to save money)
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese (we dice it our self to save money)
- Sprinkles of salt, flax seeds,and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.In a large skillet, brown onion and “crumbled meat” over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Layer as follows: 1/2 of the pasta, mixed cheeses,1/2 sauce mixture, remaining mixed pasta, cheeses and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.
Why teach children how to cook?
- Cooking can be a fun time to bond with your kids, as well teach basic cooking education(importance of proper food safety practices, including food storage and kitchen hygiene ).Your kids will become more independent and confident.
- Before they leave home, they should know how to successfully cook and eat well when on their own.
- Teach them the difference between food and highly processed food items. If you don’t have a garden consider starting a container garden and shopping from a farmers market.
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ENJOY!- QC Supermom