I didn’t always love to cook. In fact, I actually hated (and sucked at!) cooking until I went off to college and sort of trial-and-errored the whole thing. (Trust me, I couldn’t even make scrambled eggs right until I was twenty!) But, once I got the hang of it, cooking became something I was passionate about.
And, when I started my bonus mom journey, cooking also became a part of my love language.
Cooking was—and still is—a large way that I show love. And now, I have my own little recipes, my own traditions, and a strong desire to show get my child interested in cooking, too.
Did you know that children that have a healthy diet in childhood are more likely to live healthily as adults? It’s true. And it’s so special that we, as parents, have the power to facilitate that in our families.
Here are some suggestions to get your child interested in cooking:
Go Shopping Together
Your child will have a deeper appreciation of food—and interest in cooking it—if he/she knows where it comes from. And this can be as simple as purchasing it at the grocery store or market, or as complicated as tracking back ingredients, sources, farms, and sustainability/ecofriendly practices.
If possible, invite your child to go shopping with you!
And don’t just drag them around, but talk to them, show them your selection process, and get their opinion on which ingredients you should pick up. It’s all about getting them involved with what’s going on.
Get Their Help in the Kitchen
Of course, the real action will take place in the kitchen!
Before jumping right in, take careful steps to involve them in kitchen practices and routines. For example, you can them to be your assistant helper, or to mix up some ingredients. You could even build their interest by simply having them in the same space with you while you’re cooking.
Even if they’re just hanging out, they’ll slowly be immersing themselves in the world of food.
Make Meals an Event
Cooking can be pleasurable in itself! However, there are times when it’s the process, not the end result, that’s most important.
You can show your children that the effort is all worth it by making the eating of the food an event shared with the whole family. This isn’t just about setting the table or presenting the food in a unique way; it’s also about creating memorable moments around eating and making this a noteworthy part (and eventual habit!) of each day.
There’s something to be said for bonding over a good meal and conversation.
Indulge Every So Often
One of the most exciting parts of cooking and baking is getting to indulge in treats every once in a while!
Let’s face it, having the chance to prepare something sweet and delicious with your kids is plain fun! If you’re just starting out, go with something simple, like a Texas sheet cake, for example, and increase complexity from there.
You can also try out different recipes, flavors, and foods to grow your child’s palette and exposure to different types of foods and/or cultures.
Let Them Take The Lead
As your child grows (both in age and in interest) don’t be afraid to let him/her take the lead (safely, of course).
There’s something fun about getting to be the ‘lead chef’ and taking the reins! Plus, giving your child autonomy in the kitchen can help to build confidence and self-trust in other areas of life, too (like school, sports/music, or other extra curricular activities).
Make It Fun
I know from personal experience that cooking wasn’t always fun for me. Although I vividly remember making ‘cakes’ from flour, sugar, and crushed up fruit for my parents to eat (sorry Mom and Dad!) when I was little, my actual skills and excitement around the kitchen didn’t come to fruition until my twenties.
And the same may be for your child, too.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you can’t force excitement or interest.
Instead, focus on making the experience, fun, silly, and a bonding moment. From there, the joy will undoubtedly (and unconsciously!) grow. And, who knows? Even if things don’t work out now, by creating experiences in your child’s youth, you can pave the way for a positive relationship with cooking in the future!