As parents, we often struggle just to get dinner on the table and hope to avoid conflict and tears. It often seems easier to prepare a meal without kids in the kitchen, but involving them at every stage of the meal—from planning to execution—can reduce stress while sparking a love of food.
When we include our kids in menu planning, we not only give them ownership of what goes on the table, but we also teach important lessons about nutrition, budgeting, and compromise. A weekly menu that involves each child’s favorite meal also teaches the child how to accommodate others. A trip to the grocery store, farmers market, or backyard garden enables everyone to participate in gathering ingredients and learning about proper storage to reduce waste.
In addition to improving manual dexterity, cooking also improves reading and math skills in a practical way that kids really enjoy. There is nothing abstract in one teaspoon verses one tablespoon of salt in a cookie recipe!
Cooking together is a great way to encourage our children to be curious and develop new flavors. The willingness to experiment is how we learn to build flavor, and kids are naturally curious about what happens when different ingredients are combined.