Thanks to Kohl’s and Fitfluential for sponsoring this post.
I have a confession to make. I hate cooking. Well, that’s not entirely true. I used to love pouring through cookbooks and creating delicious and nourishing meals.
Once we had kids, I started to hate cooking. At first, it was because I had to learn to safely navigate the kitchen with my kids’ extensive food allergies in mind. Cooking was no longer a stress reliever in my day but a very stressful task to make sure I wasn’t cross-contaminating or serving my kids something that could potentially make them sick. And during those early years, when if felt like we were discovering new food allergies at every meal, cooking put me on edge.
Eventually we figured out the food allergy thing. And once we did, we entered the picky eating stage. We’re on a broken record rotation of about 5-6 dinner and lunch options, which have left my husband and I with a bad case of bored taste buds.
Mealtimes have become a part of the day that I wish I could fast-forward through. And my kids know this too.
When I thought about my goals for the Kohl’s #MakeYourMove campaign, the first thing that came to mind was making mealtime more enjoyable for everyone. I don’t want it to be the hard part of my day anymore. I want to rediscover the joy of cooking and for my kids to grow to love and appreciate good, healthy and nourishing food.
Over the past couple of months, we’ve been working hard to expand my kids’ palettes. So far, we’ve had less dinnertime struggles and even my pickiest eater has been willing to try a bite or two of new foods.
What’s changed? I’ve begun to involve them in the process of cooking and meal planning. Here are 5 tips for cooking with kids that have helped to make dinnertime more interesting and fun.
- Let them choose one meal
This has made the biggest difference for us. Every weekend, my kids choose one new dish they want to try for dinner during the week. They flip through our cookbooks, examining the recipes (mostly the pictures). They can choose whatever they want. Fried polenta with asparagus wrapped in bacon? Sure. Bakes pasta with roasted vegetables? Yes.
When they get to choose their own meal, they are more excited to actually try the dish, and they are more likely to help out with making dinner that night. Not only that, merely looking through the cookbooks starts to expand their horizons. They see that there are many more options out there besides plain pasta, tacos and mac and cheese.
If we’re ambitious, we’ll put together a meal plan for the week together. Again, when we sit down and do this together, they feel more invested in the process and are less likely to complain when dinnertime rolls around.
2. Get them involved
Once the meals are planned, engage kids in the dinner preparation process. This can be anything from helping to wash and prep vegetables to gathering the ingredients to mixing and stirring to setting the dinner table. Then, they see everything that’s involved in bringing a meal together. It becomes more of a family project to make dinner rather than just something that you alone are responsible for.
3. LET them be involved
Remember, if you’re cooking with kids, you actually have to LET your kids be involved in making dinner. My older son would often try to help but I would hover over him and “help” him with his tasks instead of letting him to it himself because I was afraid he’s make a mess (he did) or wouldn’t cut the vegetable perfectly (he didn’t). But this was counter-productive and made him feel less confident in the kitchen.
4. Keep it fun
Making cooking with kids fun can mean lots of different things for different families — singing songs, playing games, cutting food into different shapes. For us, this means spiralizing.
Oh man, my boys love spiralizing vegetables. I wish that I had purchased one sooner! They love seeing how the spirals are created and are amused to see vegetables that they’ve eaten over and over again take on new shapes. A spiralizer like the OXO Good Grips Handheld Spiralizer is super easy and simple for my son to use.
5. Celebrate the meal
Once the food is made, everyone wants to dig in! It’s important to celebrate the meal and acknowledge everyone’s part in getting dinner on the table. Not only do kids appreciate the recognition, it’s a nice way to give thanks to everyone at the table.
Kohl’s #MakeYourMove campaign is about inspiring people to seek the things that motivate them to live a healthier life. Healthy living doesn’t have to be hard. It’s about finding joy in the journey.
What’s your best tip to #MakeYourMove to stress-free and fun family meals?
Other posts in this series:
- Are you ready to make your move?
- Hiking with Kids: 9 Tips to Make Hiking Fun for the Whole Family
- A Runner’s Pledge: Injury Prevention Tips for Runners
- 8 Stress-Busting Tips for Busy and Hectic Times
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Kohl’s.
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