Why You Should Cook With Your Kids

There’s a reason why the Easy-Bake Oven has endured for over five decades while other toy fads come and go: Kids love to cook.

And why do kids love to cook? Because they see their parents doing it and want to be like them. They also want to spend time with mom and dad, and it all starts at a very young age.

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Image via Pixabay

At the same time, cooking with kids isn’t always practical. It takes longer because you have to explain things slowly and answer lots of questions. You usually have to take extra safety precautions. Then there’s the mess factor, which creates more dishes and laundry than you deserve.

But I’m here to tell you that it’s completely, totally, and unequivocally worth it. Plenty of sites will tell you how to do it, and even more will share easy-to-do, kid-friendly recipes. But that’s not my goal here today.

What I’d like to reveal is why you should do it. There’s no need to wait to cook until they’re asleep, out of the house, or busy watching TV. There’re loads of reasons why it’s a good idea right here, right now – and at any age.

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Cooking together empowers children to make healthy food choices – Baking sweets is a lot of fun with kids, but it’s also important to show them how to keep food healthy while cooking, and you can even do that with sweets. By educating them early on about proper eating habits, kids get a prompt primer on eating right that will carry with them through life.

It teaches them how to save money. – Eating out has saved many of us the headache and hassle of doing it ourselves, and it’s also fun to do so. But it’s also terribly expensive. And there’s no better way to help children learn the value of a dollar by showing them just how inexpensive it can be to prepare food at home. Saving their money is a practice I want my kids to learn long before they have access to their bank accounts.

They’ll enjoy eating food that they’ve cooked – Isn’t there a greater appreciation for meal time when you’ve spent a long preparing it yourself? Give kids a chance to experience that and feel a pride about what they’ve done.

Cooking broadens their food horizons – If you’re daring enough to get creative with your meal prep, you can dive into other American or worldly cuisine that you never tried otherwise. Doing so will expand their palate and make life easier whenever you serve food they might not have touched before.

It teaches them kitchen safety – As much as I’ve urged my kids to steer clear of a hot stove, I’ve also encouraged them to use that same stove safely with the proper tools. It also helps them to practice safety in everything else they do, such as riding bikes, swimming, or crossing a dangerous intersection. 

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You get to spend time with them – If you have that nagging feeling that DVD’s get more quality time with your kids than you do, here’s your chance to spend precious moments with your loved ones. You’ll get messy, you’ll laugh, you’ll make memories, and you’ll eat well, too! That sounds like just as much fun as the park or the zoo.

They can cook for you someday – No, a two-year-old can’t cook you breakfast. But if you encourage them over time, you may have a handy little helper in the kitchen that can get things ready not only for you but for the younger siblings as well. That payback later in life, in the finance world, can be called dividends.

You may nurture a budding career in culinary arts – It’s OK to dream about your little one become a famous Hollywood star or pro athlete, but you never know if your time with them in the kitchen is merely the beginning of a successful career in the food industry.

Cooking brings families closer – There’s something incredibly beloved about my mom’s recipe box and cookbooks. Yes, they’re a little stained, worn, and tattered. But to me, that’s what makes them so venerable. They’re precious and treasured, like a part of our family that binds us all together. No, I don’t remember all the meals she cooked for me as a child, but I do remember how she made me feel when she cooked and as I spent time with her in the kitchen. Even if I wasn’t helping bake, I still remember the comfort of being around her while she practiced her craft.

What do you think?

Why You Should Cook With Your Kids

Tom Konecny is a dad of four children and husband to wife, Erika. Tom currently serves as a private consultant in writing, communications and marketing. In 2013, Tom founded Dad Marketing, a site dedicated to exploring the world of marketing to dads. He previously worked in sports marketing, served as an associate editor and writer for several publications, and directed an award-winning corporate marketing department. His first book, "DADLY Dollar$" will be published this summer, and he is c ... More

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