Welcome your kids into the kitchen for a healthy start

Friday, May 16, 2014 - 2:58pm

Tara Jones
Wellness Facilitator (dietitian), Community Health Teams, Capital Health
Community Nutrition Coordinator, Primary Care, IWK Health Centre

Inviting your kids into the kitchen and teaching them how to cook is an activity that is educational, fun and will help your children to grow up to be healthy adults. Often we ask our kids to do the dishes or set the table but that’s not as exciting as learning how to cook. Most kids think it is fun to do things like cut up fruit and vegetables, use measuring cups and grate cheese. 

Teaching our kids basic food preparation and cooking skills at a young age sets the stage for them to be healthier adults. When children are involved in the process of preparing healthy and affordable meals, they are also more likely to eat and enjoy what they have created in the kitchen.

There are three things you can do to spark an interest in your kids around healthy eating and cooking:

  • Get your kids more involved in planning the household menu and creating a grocery list. For example, you might ask them what fruit they want for snacks and lunches based on what’s on sale in the weekly grocery flyer or what vegetables they would like in the stir-fry tomorrow night for supper.
  • Take them grocery shopping to help you find the food items on your list. This is a great way to keep kids occupied and it offers a great opportunity to teach your kids about basic healthy eating. A simple healthy eating tip to teach your kids is to aim for a colourful grocery cart with a variety of foods to give our bodies different vitamins, minerals and nutrients we need to be healthy.
  • Get your kids in the kitchen to cook with you - this is where the fun starts! Just remember to be patient and keep it simple. Cooking with your kids might take longer and there could be more of a mess, but the extra effort is worth it. Start off with simple tasks such as have them gather the recipe ingredients out of the cupboards or fridge, than the next time they could portion out ingredients with measuring cups and spoons or grate cheese before they move onto more advanced preparation skills like chopping vegetables. As you become more comfortable with your kids in the kitchen and their own confidence grows, their skills will naturally progress.

It’s never too early or too late to get your kids cooking in the kitchen with you. It is a great bonding experience with your kids and as a parent it feels good to know you are teaching them skills that will last a lifetime and contribute to them being healthier adults. For many of us, some of our fondest childhood memories involve time spent in the kitchen with a parent or grandparent. Let’s keep the tradition going by welcoming our kids into the kitchen.

Community Health Teams focus on the promotion of health and wellness in the community and are an initiative of Primary Health Care at Capital Health in partnership with the IWK Health Centre and community partners.

Nutrition sessions such as Cooking with Kids or Toddlers at the Table and other free health and wellness programs offered by the Community Health Teams. It’s free for those who live, work or have a family doctor in the city of Dartmouth or the Chebucto (Halifax mainland) area of communities from Sambro to Larry Uteck Boulevard.