Do you spend time with your kids in the kitchen or is that an off-limits area? Is it a struggle to get kids to eat even a bite of the main meal you're serving because they'd rather have “kid-friendly” food? Maybe you want them to eat real food but you aren't sure how to get them to cooperate?
Don't despair. First, if your child is fond of kids' meals and not so eager to eat veggies, you're not alone. You might not have noticed, but our culture is likely working against your nutritional efforts at home!
“Children tend to rise to the culinary bar we set for them, and children’s menus in America set the bar very low indeed.” Michele Humes
Parents who eat healthy foods and avoid fast food have kids who do the same. If you want a child who enjoys healthy eating, eat healthy food.
What if you came to the game a little late? Well, there's always room for improvement. I'm here to prove it. Let me use my experience with my six kids as proof.
How I got my kids to eat anything I put in front of them
My first child came along before I studied nutrition. She had regular trips to get happy meals. Her Nana let her have ice cream and chicken nuggets for breakfast because “that was all she would eat.”
As my family continued to grow and I gained knowledge of the benefits of eating a whole food diet my standards for the dinner table shifted. When I became aware of the risks of eating junk food and fast food, I stopped eating it and so did my kids.
By this time, I had four children. They'd been introduced to salad with much cajoling, bribery, and tears. While the start was rocky, they eventually grew to love vegetables and regularly eat a wide variety with no bribes.
My last two children were born well after I stopped going to fast food and started eating salads and drinking green smoothies. They'll eat anything healthy, literally anything. I've never had either of them put up a fuss.
As a matter of fact, their palates are more mature than many adults I've met. Not only are they willing to eat asparagus, artichoke, collard wraps, whole grains, and fish that's not breaded, they ask for it. They've eaten sushi, sashimi, veggie burgers, guacamole, hummus, and more.
When we go out to eat, they order off the regular menu because they enjoy food and they want to try it all. They regularly eat healthy meals because that's what they like.
By the time I was training their palates, I was no longer sold on “kid-friendly” foods. Now that they are both teenagers, they are fit, healthy, and will eat anything I put on the table.
Anyone can teach their child to make better food choices
My friend Samantha has five young children who eat “like adults” because she's a foodie and has never catered to the mistaken belief that kids will only enjoy kids' meals.
I hear you, though, you might be part way through your parenting journey and your children are already sold on kids' meals. You may currently be a short-order cook, preparing one meal for yourself and a another for your kids. I get it, I've been there.
That's why I am so happy to introduce you to Katie Kimball. She has been teaching kids to cook for years, including her own children who cook meals for her family.
Cooking skills benefit a child for the rest of their life. First, eating healthily can help them avoid childhood obesity. In addition, it establishes the habits of a healthy lifestyle.
One of the things Katie recommends in the podcast (are you listening to it now?) is exposure buckets. She explains that each exposure to a particular food counts as a step toward your child eating (and enjoying) that food. Using the example of a carrot, the first exposure is at the grocery store, second is in the kitchen while preparing dinner.
Kids who cook at home are more likely to eat veggies than their counterparts who don't spend time in the kitchen.
Getting Kids in the Kitchen
Beyond health and wellness, there are other incentives when you teach your child to cook. One of the side benefits of getting kids in the kitchen is that it helps them develop fine motor skills. Such as using a butter knife to spread, cookie cutters on dough, or stirring batter.
These kitchen skills will stay with your child for the rest of their life. When they are in college, they won't need to rely on fast food. When they have their own family, they can pass on their skills to the next generation.
Katie helps families acquire these kitchen skills with her awesome Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. Using simple recipes and her background in teaching, Katie teaches children to become young chefs.
No matter what age group your child is in, or even if you have multiple children of varying ages, the easy recipes incorporate skills for each level. At the end of the lesson, your family will have a meal or snack they can enjoy.
There’s no better time than NOW to teach your kids life skills, whether they’re 2 or 17.
My own children have enjoyed cooking throughout the years, and it has been one of the more favored household chores. Once your children complete the course, you'll have your own young home cooks! And as a busy mama, what's more satisfying than sitting down to a meal your own children have prepared?
Oh, and I read one review that said,
Now that they’ve got some basics down they’ve actually started taking initiative in other kitchen duties including cleanup and dishes. Who knew an online cooking class could do that? Tara
You can't beat that! Now let's get cookin'!
About the Author
Katie Kimball is the voice of healthy kids cooking, working to restore the health of our young generation one kitchen at a time. She’s a cookbook author, Certified Stress Mastery Educator, and regular TV contributor who has shared her journey to real food and natural living for 12 years at Kitchen Stewardship, a blog that helps families stay healthy without going crazy.
Along with her 4 children, she created the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse to help other parents teach their kids to cook, build family connection in the kitchen, and supercharge kids’ confidence and creativity.
In 2020 the Wall Street Journal recommended Kids Cook Real Food as the best online cooking class for kids. She is actively masterminding the Kids' Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child being able to cook.
1 – https://slate.com/human-interest/2013/08/childrens-menu-history-how-prohibition-and-emmett-holt-gave-rise-to-kid-cuisine.html