We are passionate about getting kids in the kitchen to help with meal planning and prepping. This is a great time to educate them (without their knowing) on nutrition and how to survive on something other than take out or microwave meals. I truly believe that the more they are a part of the meal prep, the more foods they will try (without requiring us to force it down their throats).
From the time our son could speak, I began giving him choices at the grocery store and at home. When we are shopping I ask his to pick the veggies and fruits that he wants for the week. Now in the summer, he gets what is in our garden but I still give him at least two choices. He is generally a very good eater and we rarely have to fight with him to get him to eat, but when the things on his plate are his choices, it does make dinner time a little easier.
We recently hosted our first cooking class with a few 6th grade girls. Our neighbor’s daughter loves to cook, so she invited two friends over for a cooking class. It was fun to see how excited they were about cooking and talk with them about their favorite foods. We chose two recipes that were fairly easy so they could make them for their friends or family. They sliced, diced, and grated everything needed for both recipes. I told them that part of cooking is cleaning up the mess, so they even did dishes (they were less than thrilled about this portion)!
They made a cheesy chicken and pasta bake and fruit salsa with cinnamon chips. The cinnamon chips were the biggest hit and I should have known that anything sweet would steal the show. At least the fruit salsa balances out all the cinnamon and sugar on the baked chips! The pasta dish is one of my favorite “hidden veggie” dishes and I intentionally made this pasta because it contains zucchini which I assumed would not be popular. I wanted to prove to the girls that just because you’ve tried something once and didn’t like it, you may like it prepared another way. It also totally blends into this dish and you can’t taste it at all! It was neat to see how proud they were of themselves for preparing both dishes from start to finish. I’m hoping they will continue to be excited about experimenting in the kitchen and trying new foods. They’ve already asked to sign up for our next class, preferably containing all desserts!