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Planning Meals with Your Kids

Sep 16, 2008
It's a great experience for kids to be involved in the process of preparing meals. They get at least a small say in what they're eating, which can help interest them in the meal. They may even be able to help cook.

Of course, unless you want sweets in every meal, you will want to be sure that you keep some control over the process.

You can involve them long before the cooking starts, too. Have them help pick recipes and plan the grocery shopping. Have them help with the shopping.

One of the advantages of this is that you can start teaching your kids about nutrition and balanced meals. They need to learn all of these things. Kids can start this just as soon as they show an interest in what you're doing in the kitchen.

For mine, this was around age 2. They each started out by tearing lettuce for salads. Very easy, and they got to help with a healthy part of the meal.

Children need to know the importance of eating from the various food groups. It's sad but true that too many children do not get enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. Take some time to work on that with your family and you may be able to improve your entire family's diet overall.

Another advantage of planning meals out with your kids is that you cut down on the excuses to eat out. If you know you'll be short on time one evening, you can plan something simple and quick to cook or just plan for leftovers. You'll probably save money and eat healthier by doing so.

Let the kids suggest at least one item for each meal. You can just give the category, such as main dish, vegetables, side dish and so forth. If the suggestion won't work for some reason, discuss why.

Better yet is when you have the kids suggest something and they then get to help make it, as appropriate. You can't have a 4 year old do actual cooking, but he or she may be able to help you find the right pots or pans and utensils, as well as find the ingredients. There are many ways you can involve children in food preparation if you don't rush things.

Involving your children in meal planning and food preparation is a wonderful way to teach them about healthy eating. It's also great motivation for the parents to eat better. Give it a try and see how it works for you and your family.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster wrote the ebook available at One Arm Recipes for parents who need to cook with children underfoot. Take a little time and enjoy cooking as a family!
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