Getting kids in the kitchen can be messy and time consuming, but it is definitely worth it! I grew up cooking in the kitchen with my mom and grandmother all the time! Now, I love to nourish my family with healthy meals and treats. I even have the pleasure of teaching other children about nutrition and cooking. I hope to support a generation of people who want to do the same and only rely on takeout and processed food as an occasional thing rather than the norm.
So, how do you teach your kids in the kitchen?
(This may be the most obvious and is the most fun for me.)
Learn about carbohydrates, proteins, and fats!
Ask them to plan a healthy meal incorporating all three macronutrients.
Ask them to classify foods into the following groups – complex carbohydrate, simple carbohydrate, complete protein, incomplete protein, saturated fat and omega-3 fats.
Ask them to take a favorite meal and creatively add vegetables to it!
Teach them to read labels and be a food detective. Do a pantry makeover and get rid of foods that contain high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil, and food dyes. Replace them with healthier alternatives during your next shopping trip. Ask them to research and write a paper on why we should not consume those ingredients.
If your kids are younger and just beginning to read, the kitchen is a great place to start. They can practice reading labels and recipes.
If your child is taking a foreign language, have them only identify foods by their Spanish name (for example) for the day.
Young children can learn about shapes. “An orange is a circle. A slice of bread is a square. A granola bar is a rectangle.”
Fractions – Practice doubling or halving recipes. Then make the recipe! Yum!
Word problems – If you are having a party with 16 friends, how would you cut the brownies in your 8×8 pan so that everyone receives 1 brownie? Would you have any leftover?
Word problems – The recommended serving size of meat is 4 oz. You have invited 22 guests to your Labor Day party. Assuming that the average consumption will be 1 BBQ pork sandwich, how much pork should you purchase?
Botany & Gardening
Grow plants from kitchen scraps. Vegetables like celery, lettuce, bean sprouts, and potatoes can easily be sprouted and planted in your garden or in a pot! One of the easiest ones to do is celery. There are many online tutorials available.
Learn about the parts of the plant. Ask them to write down everything they ate yesterday and ask them to identify which parts of the plant they consumed.
This is a life skill that is crucial to success! Healthy eating does not have to break the bank! Teach them how to meal plan based on what you have in your kitchen, sale ads, in-season produce and the family budget. Allow them to make the meal plan and shop for ingredients.
Along with this, allow them to create meals using ingredients/leftovers already available in your kitchen. Leftovers do not have to be eaten the same way as originally fixed. Did you make chili? Have it as nachos the next day!
Social Studies – Culture
Food is an awesome way to learn about other cultures. Research foods that are common to the culture you are studying. Find recipes and start cooking!
Make bread to demonstrate how yeast works.
Make cookies or biscuits to demonstrate how other leavening agents work.
Ferment your own vegetables. Make sure you research the proper technique in order to prevent mold and illness.
Brown avocados and cut-up apples to demonstrate oxidation. Ask them to research and experiment with ways to prevent this oxidation.
Make meringue to demonstrate protein denaturation.
Classify foods and drinks as a solid, liquid or gas. Turn solid foods into liquids and vice versa.
Make popcorn to illustrate that water, when heated, turns into a gas. The inside of a popcorn kernel contains a little bit of water which is what causes into to pop when heated.
Identify the boiling point and freezing point of different liquids.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when teaching kids in the kitchen. What tips would you share?
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