“Food is not just fuel. Food is about family, food is about community, food is about identity. And we nourish all those things when we eat well.” — Michael Pollan
Our schedules have been turned upside down. Many of us get to spend more time at home with our families. While it can be annoying to all be together sometimes — like when your kids take up the bandwidth on the internet with their virtual classes — it’s a great opportunity to come together and build relationships. If you’re looking for meaningful things to do together, try cooking a meal together. Cooking might seem like a trivial task, but it can help teach your kids meaningful skills and allow you to connect as a family.
Let’s learn about more benefits of cooking together.
Benefits of Cooking Together
· As you work together as a family unit, you can help teach your kids about leadership, delegation, and teamwork. One person can be in charge of the meal and can ask for help with certain tasks — appropriate to each person’s age and skill level, of course. You can take turns so that everyone gets to be in charge and practice their leadership skills. Those who are asked to help can practice being good team players as they support the leader.
· Cooking also teaches problem solving skills. Say you don’t have an ingredient in the pantry. What do you do? Together, you can work through the problem and identify a solution. Maybe you can find a good substitute ingredient, or someone needs to make a quick trip to the store.
· Kids can also use cooking activities to practice their math or science skills. Measuring ingredients or doubling up a recipe can be great practice for younger kids to practice their fractions. Plus, cooking is a science, so you could learn more about what happens to certain foods when they are cooked. For example, why does bread rise?
· Meal planning is another task your family can do together. This activity can teach your kids planning and organization skills that can benefit them throughout their lives. Kids can see the importance of thinking ahead and being prepared.
· You can also use this time to provide education about food to your children. You can talk about the basic blocks of nutrition (See Nutrition 101 for a quick review). You can also discuss topics like the economy or sustainability.
· Cooking together can also help foster appreciation within the other members of your family. If you have a picky eater, they might benefit from seeing all of the work that goes into planning and preparing a meal. They might think twice before they ask you to prepare a completely different meal just for them.
· Cooking together can help you stay on track with your nutrition goals. If you are the only one in the family who is trying to eat healthily, it might be hard to stick to your goals when you see family members eating something different. As appropriate, you can get your family on board with your health goals too. This can help you avoid cooking separate dishes for them and yourself. It can also help your family members be aware of and hold you accountable for your goals.
How to Start Cooking Together
While it may be clear that cooking as a family is beneficial, it may be easier said than done. Sometimes, it’s just faster and easier to prepare a meal yourself. But there are small steps you can take to get the family involved.
1. Ask your kids what they want to eat this week. This can get the conversation started about meal planning. If they only give you a few ingredients, you can plug them into the Search by Ingredients tool to get recipe ideas.
2. Involve everyone in prep work. Food prep can be done in advance, so you won’t have to worry about rushing through the tasks. Ask your kids or your partner to help you slice vegetables or pick off leaves on fresh herbs to help you get ready to cook.
3. Have your family set the table. There are tasks outside of just cooking food that need to get done before you have a meal together. Ask your family to help with tidying the kitchen, clearing off the table, and setting out the plates and utensils.
4. Don’t forget about cleanup. Doing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen is another part of cooking. Ask family members to put away their plates and help with cleanup. You can also ask for someone to put away any leftovers, which sets a good example of diminishing food waste.
5. Go grocery shopping together. Kids can feel more involved in the cooking process when they can see where ingredients come from and if they can pick out a few things themselves too. Don’t forget to take your EatLove grocery list with you.
6. Taste food together. Everyone needs a reliable taste tester. After a meal is ready to go, ask for someone to taste the food and provide feedback on flavors and textures.
For more ideas on how you can involve your family in the kitchen, check out this guide from the US Department of Health & Human Services.
These are just some small ways that you can involve the family when cooking. If you have other ways to involve your loved ones in the process, we’d love to hear about them!
ASK YOURSELF THIS:
How can you involve your family members more? What is your attitude like when others try to help you in the kitchen? What food-related lessons would be valuable to your family?
When you’re cooking a meal this week, try to assign a role to each member of your family.
At EatLove, we understand the importance of the family unit when it comes to building healthy food habits. That’s why we ask every client to provide their household information so that our smart nutrition technology can generate enough food for the whole family. Plus, our extensive recipe base ensures that there is food that everyone will like.