I have so many fond memories of cooking with my grandmother. From green beans to mashed potatoes to fried chicken to fresh peach pie, she may have not made the healthiest cuisine, but boy was it tasty. And I was always right there — “helping.”
These days, with a little of my own, I try to engage my daughter as much as I can into the cooking process. She’s only a toddler, so clearly sharp objects and flames are out of the question, but scooping, measuring and seasoning? Game on. And she loves it.
Daniel Hammond, director of Pali Adventures — a unique overnight summer camp experience for kids ages 8-16 — recently sent us a list of some of the benefits of kids cooking. And they rang so true. So we decided to share them today (plus a benefit of our own!).
5 Reasons to Cook With Your Kids
1. Basic learning. Cooking is a great way for children to watch math in action: measuring and counting involves basic math skills. Recipes introduce vocabulary not found on spelling tests. And working through the steps of a recipe involves logic and sequencing skills.
2. They try something new — and make healthier choices. Even picky eaters are more willing to try new foods when they participate in meal preparation. The Chez Panisse Foundation reports that youngsters are more willing to eat foods that they grow or cook themselves. And opportunities to expose children to the cooking process expands their palate and exposes their senses to the touch, taste and smell of ingredients that might otherwise not be tasted if they don’t participate in their preparation.
3. Builds confidence. From young children through teenagers, everyone can participate in cooking through age-appropriate tasks. Simple mixing, washing, and adding ingredients for the youngest cooks; measuring and following a recipe for elementary aged chefs; independent menu preparation and knife skills for teens. Every child can feel a sense of accomplishment and gain confidence through cooking. And every masterpiece — even if not picture perfect — can be celebrated and showcased.
4. An opportunity to travel the world. Food is a way for children to experience their world through different cuisines. Try to include recipes from all over the map and use it as a chance to learn about other cultures.
5. It’s quality (screen-free) time time with you. How often are you and your kids both away from screens and equally engaged in something? Feels pretty awesome when it happens, right?
Do you cook with your kids? It’s a life-long skill so it makes sense to start ’em early — but it’s never too late to get in the kitchen! —Jenn