Sponsor Article from Chef Boyardee®
Cooking dinner together as a family results in far more than just what makes it to the plate. Preparing dinner is a fun learning opportunity for kids, as it encourages teamwork and shares in the responsibility and knowledge of composing a balanced meal. While true confidence in the kitchen comes from years of experience, it begins with a personal connection and a comfort surrounding the creation of meals. Make an effort to reinforce cooking as a positive experience and, regardless of skill level or age, the whole family can cook together in a way that is more than just functional, it's memorable. Gather your recipes and consider these tips as dinnertime approaches and make cooking with the whole family more fun than ever.
Familiar Is Fun
When figuring out what to cook together, start within your rotating repertoire of kid-approved recipes. Beginning with something familiar — and something you know the whole family likes, like Chef Boyardee — encourages equal involvement from all skill levels. As the routine of cooking together settles, incorporate new dishes or ingredients; you'll be surprised by their willingness to try new things when they participate in how a dish is made.
Connect to the Kitchen
Recipes are a fun and valuable tool to reinforce many skills your children are already developing in school. For younger children, the kitchen provides a place to practice motor skills and sharing, as well as following simple directions in an active and rewarding way. Older children benefit from a hands-on application of essential mathematic and scientific principles, while exploring the globe and other cultures through different dishes. Make culinary globetrotting extra fun by playing around with pronunciation and the language of origin for the dish and making it a game to see who gets it right. Connect the lessons and interests your kids develop during school to the kitchen and give them a fun way to learn outside of the classroom.
Worry Less About Mess
Maintaining a fun and friendly attitude is very important when cooking as a family, as it reinforces cooking as being creative and fun rather than a chore. Make an effort to keep the kitchen tidy, but accept that it can lead to a messy kitchen. Allowing your kids to make moderate messes encourages them to experiment and get involved in a fun way. Finding the balance that works best for your family — like sweeping after cutting up vegetables rather than breaking out the broom as you cook — is the best way to keep the chores out of the cooking process.
Kitchens can be practical or creative, depending on the mood of the cooks. To keep the vibe upbeat, keep stress out of the equation by maintaining easy conversation that supports a positive association with cooking. Another helpful way to avoid stress in the kitchen is to identify appropriate shortcuts in recipes for a shortened prep list, like swapping a box of frozen spinach for fresh on the days where washing, wilting and chopping feels overwhelming. Incorporate games into the kitchen by making a friendly competition out of some of the easier jobs, like washing lettuce or shelling peas, and offering a prize to the victor. Finally, while you're having fun in the kitchen, let your kids choose their favorite music for the whole family to enjoy.