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Posts Tagged ‘cooking with kids’

What’s for dinner?

an empty cutting board with a fork and knife

After months of living in a pandemic, does the thought of finding an answer to this ordinary question evoke feelings of panic, stress, or dread? If you answered with an emphatic “yes”, you’re not alone!

While we know there are many positive, lifelong health and social benefits associated with family meals, most families have found themselves eating at home together much more often this year than in pre-pandemic times, and the continuous effort required to plan, prepare and clean up meals can be exhausting. In a survey of over 2,000 Americans conducted earlier this year, 55% said that cooking at home has made them feel fatigued. Of those surveyed, the average respondent was cooking nine meals a week and had cooked the same meal 28 times since the start of the pandemic. Even those who reportedly enjoy cooking wish they could make a healthy meal more quickly!

If you can relate, here are a few ideas for overcoming cooking fatigue:

  • Solicit help. Delegate age-appropriate food preparation and clean-up tasks to other members of the household whenever possible.
  • Use convenience foods such as frozen vegetables and canned beans to cut preparation and clean-up time.
  • Ask friends and family members to share their favorite easy recipes. You could coordinate a holiday recipe exchange or start an email chain for recipe sharing.
  • Try something new and exciting! Take a trip around the world by trying various recipes from different countries, work your way through a new cookbook, or take the opportunity to get comfortable with a new appliance – something like an air fryer or an electric pressure cooker.
  • Build a collection of easy recipes that can be assembled from ingredients you might already have on hand. Food Hero and Celebrate Your Plate are my favorite websites for finding easy, budget-friendly recipes that feature fruits and vegetables. Many of the recipes on these sites are kid-friendly, too.

Do you have additional tips for overcoming cooking fatigue? If so, please comment below with your ideas!

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by: Margaret Jenkins, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Clermont County

Sources:

Family Meals Movement. Why Family Meals Matter? https://www.fmi.org/family-meals-movement/meals-matter

Sadlier, A. (2020). Americans experiencing cooking fatigue while stuck at home during the pandemic. SWNS Digital. https://www.swnsdigital.com/2020/08/many-americans-are-experiencing-cooking-fatigue-while-stuck-at-home-during-the-pandemic/

Schuster, E. (2020). Cooking Fatigue: How to Overcome It & Resources. Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior. https://www.sneb.org/blog/2020/12/02/general/cooking-fatigue-how-to-overcome-it-resources/

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Recently I came across a statistic that startled me: Many youth today are up to two generations away from households where healthy food is prepared from fresh ingredients. We’re cooking and eating at home less and less. Only about 60% of dinners eaten at home are actually cooked there.

This makes food preparation and nutrition education important to our next generation’s health.  In order for youth to make informed, healthy decisions about their food, they need to have skills and knowledge about nutrition and food. Teaching kids to cook isn’t just passing on useful information they will use to feed themselves later on it also builds math, science, literacy and fine motor skills.

Dinner time is often one of the busiest times every day at my house. Teaching cooking skills and having nutrition discussions with my kids is on the back burner or forgotten in the chaos of the evening. Having a plan to pass on these skills can help make sharing them with your children and teens a priority.

Including your kids in meal planning is a good place to start.  Have children or youth choose a recipe that they are excited to try.  Help them make a list and shop for the ingredients at the store.  This teaches meal planning, a valuable lifelong skill and can build their enthusiasm for being in the kitchen.  As you grocery shop with your child consider explaining to them why you make some of the choices you do.  Talk to them about how and why to compare prices, use coupons or why you choose some brands and sizes over others.

Keep in mind cooking is a skill that increases with experience.  If a recipe with a lot of steps or ingredients feels intimidating for your new chef consider having them start with a side dish or a simple dessert.  Building confidence is part of gaining skills. Keep in mind that not every recipe may turn out successfully.  There’s growth and learning in failure too.  Talk with your child about what went wrong, and what could be done differently next time.

If your child isn’t ready to tackle a recipe on their own, invite them to join you in the cooking process by reading the recipe to you as you prepare food.  This involves them in part of the cooking process and teaches them how to read and follow a recipe.  As they learn to follow a recipe have them participate in other parts of the process such as gathering ingredients, being an assistant chef, setting the table or serving food.

Allow some space and time to play in the kitchen.  Some ideas might include: helping your child with a food science experiment, encouraging your child to create a food dish without a recipe, or experiment with different textures and taste combinations with some of your favorite recipes.

Keep in mind this process will be messy! However, it’s all part of the learning process and will get better with time.  Be prepared to talk about and demonstrate the skills you are wanting them to learn. The important thing to remember is to invite your kids in the kitchen with you in any way. Help them build a lifelong skill; it’s never too late to start.

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension – Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewed By: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension- Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Sources:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2015). Teaching Kids to Cook. https://www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/cook/teaching-kids-to-cook

Center for Nutrition Studies (2017). Cooking at Every Age, Why Kids Should Learn to Cook. https://nutritionstudies.org/cooking-at-every-age-why-kids-should-learn-to-cook/

eXtension (2017).Cooking with Kids in Schools: Why it is Important. https://www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/cook/teaching-kids-to-cook

 

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