Give your kid healthy food, they’ll be healthy for a day. Teach ‘em how to make healthy food, and they’ll make healthy choices for a lifetime.
Getting your children involved in meal prep is pivotal to help them understand what’s going into their bodies. A study done by the University of Alberta and published by Cambridge shows that children who are involved in home meal preparation also tend to make healthier choices when it comes to the food they eat. Those children tend to eat more fruit and vegetables and less fatty, fried foods. And, with back to school season coming up, you’ll want your kids to be as involved in meal prep as possible! So, what could you do to get your kids in the kitchen and having fun?
Here are 5 tips to successfully get your kids involved in meal prep.
1. Balance is Key.
Teach them about the nutrients they need for a healthy lifestyle and how to balance their meals. When packing their lunch and snacks, make sure they have all possible food groups. They’ll need at least one protein, some fruits and veggies, and healthy fat (like avocados and fish).
2. Let them make decisions.
It’s important for kids to feel that they’re not just helping in the kitchen. Meal prep shouldn’t be a chore for them, rather something they feel is fun. Sit ‘em down with a recipe book and let them flip through (with your guidence, of course). Once they choose a healthy recipe you somewhat agree with, they’ll be more enthusiastic about making it.
If you have more than one child, delegating tasks can help speed up the process while allowing them to take ownership of a certain aspect of the meal. Trust them with tasks such as preparing the ingredients, stirring the pot under your watch, and even clean up!
5. Get them to measure.
Teaching your children how to measure quantities of ingredients and how to portion the meals is imperative to healthy eating. You can have too much of a good thing. Educating your kids on how much of a certain food is a healthy amount and how much is overindulging can help them make better choices later. Less snacking, heartier meals, and promotion of self-efficacy.
6. Let them be creative.
Meal preparation doesn’t have to be by the book. Everything from ingredients to container choices is negotiable. If they want to cut vegetables in a funky way, pick random containers (that are reasonably sized), or even add random ingredients that may work–be open to it! If they’re enthusiastic about meal prep and adding ideas, that means they’re interested. Shutting them down will only cause them to disengage and eventually see meal prep as an exhaustive chore.
As a young adult, I wish I was more involved in meal preparation as a kid. Turning a parental task into a fun, educational family experience can help kids set a healthy foundation and lead to better food choices in the future. Start ‘em young!