Cooking together is one of my favorite family activities. It is a time to work together and laugh together. Since my children are spread out in ages we assign one adult or older child to help one of the younger children. The children enjoy participating while learning cooperation and how to follow directions in a relaxed environment. The kitchen seems so much warmer as we all prepare a meal together.
Start a new tradition in your home and cook together at least one night a week. Children are more likely to eat what they cook. Cooking together will provide a family a time to come together and learn important lessons about cooperation, love, helpfulness, nutrition, following recipes, counting, measuring and possibly creating your own recipes. It is an activity every member can participate in given age appropriate tasks. Here is a list of tasks divided by age as a guide to use on your family cook night.
2-4 years: crack eggs, practice measuring ingredients, stir, add in ingredients, wash vegetables, tear lettuce, form meatballs, place rolls on baking tray, place napkins on table, and help with clean up
5-8 Years: fix the salad, make sandwiches, measure ingredients, find and give ingredients to mom or older sibling, set the table and help wash the dishes
9-12 years: help planning the menu, meal preparation, make the appetizer, make tea or powered drinks, pour drinks, cut soft fruits and vegetables, clear the table and wash dishes
Teenagers: bake dessert or a portion of the meal, instruct younger siblings on cooking chores, prepare a shopping list for family cooking night, and clean the countertops and mop the floor.
Mom and Dad’s Role: Mom and dad need to oversee the event by offering guidance and maintaining order. This is the time to teach your children the importance of nutrition and making healthy choices. Parents should do any kitchen chore that poses danger such as working on stovetops or using sharp utensils. Keep the atmosphere light by allowing your children the ability to express themselves and steering the conversation to fun and engaging topics.
Here are ways to make cooking together even more fun for your family.
Healthy Bake off: Dessert can be as much fun to eat as it is to make. Pair up an older child or an adult with a younger child. Grab your favorite dessert recipes, add a twist, and start baking. Substitute sugars and high fats for healthy alternatives and together you can reshape your favorite desserts and your bodies.
Backwards Dinner: Make a complete dinner then eat it in backwards order. For example, eat dessert, main course, soup, appetizer, and finally the salad.
Ingredient Challenge: Divide up into teams and pick an ingredient for a special challenge. For instance, if you pick apples then each team must come up with an original apple recipe. You may want to assign which course each team will work on or simply allow creativity to be the guide. Either way you are sure to have a night filled with laughter and imaginative food.
Pizza Parlor: Instead of ordering out for pizza make it in your own home. Pizza made at home will be fresh and since you control the ingredients it can be healthy. Pizza is one of the easiest meals to make with children of multiple ages. Little ones love to help make pizza dough, sprinkle cheese and add toppings. Everyone will love to create their own signature pizza.
Eat a Rainbow: We have all heard the phrase “eat a rainbow” referring to eating healthy whole foods consisting of all the colors of the rainbow. Challenge your family to use every color in the meal. You can divide the family up in teams and assign each team a color. The team will have to make a healthy portion of the meal using foods in that color category.
Richele is a homeschooling mom to four children and author of Under the Golden Apple Tree. Daily she cleans up Play Doh, teaches the three “R’s”, and praises the Lord for the blessings. Her goal is to encourage moms to grow in the Lord and feel the privilege of their role.