Kids can cook

My daughter was at university and during one of my visits she asked for a cooking lesson — lasagne 101.

My daughter was at university and during one of my visits she asked for a cooking lesson — lasagne 101.

She hoped to make and freeze portions for future meals.

I was surprised at the request because I had thought she had learned to cook by watching me and helping to prepare meals when she was younger.

When I remarked on this, she told me she often did not feel comfortable cooking with me when she was younger.

She said, “Mom, I could always tell you were impatient with how I chopped or prepared something if it was not the way you would do it. It was easier just to let you do it.”

I thought about her comment, and she was right.

Once I got home from work, I was so focused on getting a nutritious and quick meal on the table in 30 minutes that I took some of the fun out of learning to cook and nurturing those life skills so necessary later in life.

Children, even as young as two years old, can help with meal preparation.

They can scrub and clean vegetables, tear pieces of lettuce, or break pieces of bread for stuffing. Remember to teach them to wash their hands before starting to work with food.

A three year old can help wrap up a sandwich, pour wet ingredients into a bowl, or mix batter.

The experience and praise will give them confidence to do more as they get older. Do not worry about being neat and tidy.

Being neater and tidier during food preparation will come with practice.

Peeling, rolling and mashing are within a four year old’s skill. Good quality peelers that peel in both directions often help make things easier. Putting toppings on a home made pizza, or into a casserole is a great way to introduce them to new foods.

Try using a step stool to reach the table or countertop in order to make these jobs easier for them.

By five years old, kids can measure and even cut food with supervision. Soft bananas or cucumbers are easy to hold and slice.

Many utensils are made for kids’ small hands. Look for kid-friendly cook books for meal ideas that are simple and fast.

Meal preparation is not the only place kids can help. They can help with setting or clearing the table and choosing fruit, vegetables, or whole grain breads while grocery shopping.

It’s important to accept that cooking with kids means things will take longer, preparation may be messier but the look of accomplishment on their faces and the praise they receive from you will leave a positive lifelong impression and a new love for cooking.

My adult children have a love of baking and cooking good food.

I guess I did some things right.

For more tips and ideas, go to http://www.interiorhealth.ca/choose-health.aspx?id=11574.

Rose Soneff is a community nutritionist with Interior Health.

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