17 Surprising Benefits When Kids Learn to Cook!
We all know that it is important to be able to cook as an adult. But sometimes we forget in the process of growing fantastic human beings, to take time to be in the kitchen with our kids. It takes effort and it takes patience. Throughout the years as a cooking instructor, I have never heard a parent say that cooking is not an important skill. But life can get in the way. What’s more, sometimes we are also concerned that kids don’t have the ability to follow the recipes or have the physical skills to be able to do harder tasks and stay safe.
We are all human, and we are all capable of learning new skills at any age, and our skills will improve overtime. The effort, I promise you, is worth it. My goal is to show you some surprising benefits that can come from teaching your kids to cook.
Keep in mind this does not have to be an everyday thing, this is not an all or nothing situation, and every bit helps. If you set up a practice of cooking with your kids once a week, your kids will improve in the 17 following areas:
Learning to cook…
1) Promotes healthier eating- When kids cook, they are more likely to be more aware of the types of ingredients and dishes they are consuming. They are also more likely to notice how the foods they eat, make them feel. Kids start to understand the importance of making choices in what they consume. A study done in Alberta, Canada showed that kids who cooked at home more than once per week, made healthier food choices when given food options.*
2) Cuts down on picky eating. Kids who are learning to cook, are more willing to try and use new ingredients, and tend to be more curious about new foods that they were previously not used to. I have seen many students of mine, open their minds up quickly to new foods and dishes, as they learned how to make them, and as they got to see what went into the recipes. It has been very exciting for the parents to watch their children expand their eating choices!
3) Gives appreciation for real food and where it comes from. Expanding on the idea just presented, this third reason follows suit. When children are exposed to ingredients in the kitchen and learn to work with those ingredients, tasting it along the way, they grow a more enriched understanding of the ingredients themselves. They get a glimpse into the cycle of how it goes from growing in the ground or how it is raised, to then going through the preparation process, which brings the food to their plates!
4) Builds relationships. Cooking can be a communal activity. Children, while learning in the kitchen, have the opportunity to bond with their family members. They get to work as part of a team, and they are then exposed to new conversations that they may not have had in another setting! This is also true when learning to cook outside the home. Of my student, bring friends along to learn together, and deepen their bond in friendship. I have also had quiet and shy students that come into a group class, and I have watched them slowly open up to their peers through cooperative and collaborative activities, gaining new friendships in the process.
5) Gives the opportunity to serve and be a part of the family community. This is a key piece that goes along with the previous reason of building relationships, but also with reason 7 in building confidence. Through building relationships and confidence, kids can feel like a key part of the family unit. They feel like they have a place and an important job in the household. Children start to feel more giving, in the process of serving food that they made, for the whole family.
6) Relieves parents of being the primary meal makers. Once kids start to get confident in kitchen skills, parents find that they are active participants in the meal making. School lunches and after school snacks are made by the kids. Kids will feel like they can expand their meals and eventually make meals for other family members. This relieves parents and other caregivers from some of the family cooking duties.
7) Provides a space to build self-confidence and independence. This, of course, is another facet of the cooking experience that goes hand in hand with number 4. When kids are given a task that they are responsible for, they incorporate it more effectively into their learning. They take pride in what they accomplish. They feel like they have met the challenges and produced a finished meal. They will build a better understanding of their own inner strength and ability, which will in turn make them more confident. Along side reason number 6, kids can then become more independent and feel like they can take charge in more areas of their lives.
8) Can be an emotional outlet. It has been studied, that cooking is connected to having a greater emotional intelligence. Cooking can reduce depressive symptoms and burnout. It can help to redirect to positive assessments of well-being. These traits in cooking can help to promote emotional resilience in kids’ lives. *
9) Develops life skills. Other than the obvious life skill of being able to cook for themselves, learning to cook, being a part of the shopping process, etc., can help kids have a better understanding of budgeting, organization, decision making and communication skills.