Teaching kids to cook at a young age is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Not only does it eventually save parents time and trouble (amen), it builds independence, creativity, and confidence. Most important is that kids who have a hand in preparing their own meals are open to eating a greater variety of healthy foods.
“Kids eat what they make,” said Cook It Up Kids co-director Jennifer Bosavage, who recently hosted two one-week sessions of Camp Cook It Up, where dozens of kids ages 6 to 12 learned the different stages of preparing a variety of meals in a commercial kitchen in Ridgefield, Conn. “If you make kids a spinach dish, they might not eat it. If kids make it, they’ll eat it.”
At Camp Cook It Up and in other cooking lessons she offers, Bosavage focuses on the basic stages of food prep, kitchen skills, and cooking, beginning with simple fruit dips and salads and ending with a full take-home meal for the entire family. Before you begin a child’s journey in the kitchen, Bosavage suggests following this important rule of thumb. “Don’t make it like school,” she said. “You want the process to be structured, not restrictive.”
Here are a few steps and strategies she and others use to give kids the confidence and skills to safely start making their own meals. With a little patience and guidance, they’ll be cooking for the family in no time. “The goal is to make them successful,” Bosavage said. “Start them with something simple and gradually move them up to the soufflé.”
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