by Rachelle Lipschultz
Fall is here, and as it gets cooler most people tend to spend more time indoors. What’s a family to do? In this issue of our e-zine, we introduce some ways that you can involve children in preparing and cooking family meals.
If this topic interests you, why not try our course FON 325, "Healthy Nutrition for Families"? It's too late to sign up for the fall class, but we will be offering it again in the spring. In the meantime, you can still sign up for the college's new intergenerational classes. These are designed for parents and grandparents to take with their children. Three of them focus on food: "Healthy Cooking and Balanced Meals," "Going Bananas," and "Five Easy Pizzas--for Parents and Kids." Course information and a registration form can be found on our fall brochure.
COOKING WITH CHILDREN
by Rachelle Lipschultz
Benefits of cooking with children
Practical tips for cooking with children
- Foods you cook yourselves are generally healthier than prepared foods or restaurant food.
- It’s cheaper than eating out.
- Kids are more likely to try new foods if they’ve had a stake in preparing it.
- It’s a no-pain way to reinforce math skills. Cooking involves converting measurements, using fractions, and counting. It also involves reading recipes, remembering steps, and learning to follow directions.
- It’s a great family bonding activity.
- It promotes cooperation skills.
- Cooking is a lifelong skill.
- Start at a young age. Even toddlers can assist with simple tasks such as wiping tables, tearing lettuce, and washing fruits and vegetables. Preschoolers are gaining more muscle control, and can help with tasks such as stirring batters, mashing vegetables, pouring liquids, and measuring dry ingredients.
- The younger the children, the shorter their attention spans. Assign simple tasks one at a time, and choose recipes that will take less time from preparation until eating.
- Make sure you have a suitable workspace. This may mean using a stool or chair so that your children can reach high counters; alternatively, you could have them work at a lower table instead.
- Supervise your children. This is particularly true of younger children—you’d be amazed at how quickly they can turn on a blender or reach a knife!
- Expect messes! They are a natural part of cooking, but at the same time you can take steps to minimize them. For example, using a larger-than-necessary bowl may make it easier for children to stir mixes and batters without spilling. Other experts suggest placing a cookie pan under the bowl, so that spills will land on the pan rather than the floor or table.
- Involve your children in cleanup as well as preparation. Cleaning is generally not all that fun, but you can make it go faster by working together. Beware of emphasizing speed of cleanup—you don’t want that speed to come at the cost of a sloppy job.
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