Preparing dinner can be stressful, busy, and chaotic, but letting your kids into the kitchen with you to help can actually turn around a lot of the chaos around mealtimes. My boys love to get into the kitchen with me and help cook, and today we’ve partnered with Uncle Ben’s to share with you some of the many reasons to cook with your kids! It can make all the difference, so I try to let them whenever our evenings feel hectic.
10 Reasons to Cook With Your Kids
1. It’s Fun! - My favorite reason to get not hold back letting your kids help you cook is that it can be a lot of fun! Kids offer a fresh perspective that cooking is exciting and a whole new experience for them, even if they’ve helped you in the past. It’s a great activity for bonding and opening communication while having a good time preparing your family meal or a healthy after school snack together.
2. Teaches Responsibility - Kids need the opportunity to be given tasks they are in charge of and the chance to do it on their own. Even your toddlers can start learning simple responsibility through cooking such as pouring a measuring cup or helping to stir. Whatever jobs they’re capable of, let them help! As your children get older, they can start to take on one weeknight meal each week to continue to empower your children in a safe environment where they can lean on you for help, when needed.
3. Brings Family Together for Meal Times – Cooking together tends to bring the family together for a sit down meal and more conversation and family time. On the nights that I let my kiddos fend for themselves as they end up with convenience foods, we tend to all eat at different times and not make mealtime a priority. But when the kids help in the kitchen to prepare a meal with me, they love showing it off around the dinner table and sharing what they got to help cook. It really brings a family element to mealtimes.
4. Cooking + Math - There are so many ways cooking can help reinforce math concepts your child is learning in school or teach new concepts. Fractions come into play as you measure out ingredients, simple addition and subtraction can happen as you adapt a recipe or have to add more than a single scoop of an ingredients. Even just basic measurement practice of filling up a teaspoon or a measuring cup will help them learn about volume.
5. Opens Communication - While cooking together, there will be a lot of time to listen to what your children want to share and communicate to you. That could be the happenings of their day, a struggle they are going through, or their hopes and dreams for the future. Whatever it may be, when your hands are both busy working together, you’ll be able to talk openly!
6. Frugality Can Be Taught - When you let the kids into the kitchen with you to cook, you’ll be able to save the money that might have otherwise been spent on fast food or quick and easy but not so healthy meals that are often much more expensive. Instead, you’ll be teaching your children how to be frugal as you use up produce before it goes bad and plan meals together based around grocery sales or what’s in the freezer already.
7. Teaches an Essential Life Skill - Taking the time to cook with your kids will help them to learn the really important skill of being able to cook and provide for themselves and their families as they make their way in the world. When I moved off to college, I could only cook a couple of very, very basic recipes – and had only that small variety of meals to go off of. My roommates were the same way. Letting them cook beside you will teach them those recipes and skills naturally.
8. Changes the Hectic Dinner Hour - For some reason, the house turns to chaos as dinnertime approaches and all the kids and even the adults get hungry and a bit cranky. Having the kids get involved in mealtime prep helps settle the chaos that can happen leaning up to dinnertime and gives your children a productive outlet rather than left to their own devices while you cook.
9. Encourages Healthy Eating - There is something magical about kids being part of the dinner making process that makes them more willing to try new recipes and ingredients. That oh so scary looking tomato now becomes something they’ve felt, smelled, and helped prepare. It’s also a very natural way to teach about ingredients, healthy eating, portion sizes, and more as they work with you in the kitchen.
10. Helps Inspire Many More Teaching Moments - Cooking together will also prompt so many more lessons you can teach your children like cleaning up after yourself when it’s time to tidy up after meal prep or how to take turns and share. It can even be an opportunity to talk about important hygiene or cleaning practices like washing your hands and cleaning the counters before you get started.
Sometimes we make cooking with our kids seem like a big hurdle or task we have to accomplish. The thing is, it’s really not that hard to let them come into the kitchen with us and help scoop, pour, pick out the ingredients, and learn about food. A recent study found that “nearly all parents agree cooking with their kids is important, but nearly half of parent’s in the U.S. cook with their kids monthly or less.”
It’s time to overcome that hurdle and realize cooking can be as beneficial to us as parents and as families as a whole as it can be to our growing children that have so much to learn. It’s not just them that benefits, we all do.
Ben’s Beginners Resources & Contest!
If you’re struggling to know where to start, Uncle Ben’s has created a great online hub for all things cooking. You and your children can head to beginners.unclebens.com together to learn basic cooking skills and earn badges, find easy recipes to cook together, and get inspired to get cooking together!
This Saturday, October 15th, is the inaugural International Cook with Your Kids Day. Join in the fun this weekend by cooking with your kids and sharing with your images, videos, and/or stories using the hashtags #LookWhatWeMade.
You can also enter the annual UNCLE BEN’S Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest, which is open through Sunday, October 16th. Join in the fun on that contest with the hashtag #BensBeginners.
I’ll be sharing our family favorite recipe, Chicken Tikka Masala, this Saturday! So check back then for a yummy recipe to cook with your family on International Cook with Your Kids Day.