Did you put “cooking healthier family meals” on your New Year’s resolution list? The best way to stick to that resolution is to get the whole family—especially your kids—involved in the kitchen. From recipe selection to food prep time to serving the meal, there’s a whole lot of learning that takes place in the kitchen…and health benefits, too.
Cooking with kids can reduce meal-time battles. Kids are much more likely to eat what they make. When kids see cooking can be creative, like an art project, it’s more fun for them. Also, having a sense of ownership in the outcome makes kids more likely to try new foods.
Family-Friendly Tip 1: Give kids 3 healthy recipes to choose from and make that meal together.
Cooking together makes it easier to be healthier together. During meal prep, the family is learning about where food comes from, food quality and the nutrition provided, which makes it easier to talk about the food-health relationship. It also makes it easier for everyone to enjoy healthier food choices inside and outside the home.
Family-Friendly Tip 2: Make it educational. Cooking is science in action. Preparing food involves chemistry, math, and reading skills not to mention planning and organizational skills to prevent disaster in the kitchen. You can also talk about benefits of locally sourced foods, compare nutrition of fresh versus canned foods.
Family-Friendly Tip 3: Schedule one “family cooking night” each week that all family members can be present to enjoy. Family cooking time is quality time. Cooking together creates time for communicating on a regular basis. In between chopping and sautéing you might chat about school, sports, current events, or books and movies.
Family-Friendly Tip 4: Have your kids do an Internet search for ways to make a specific recipe healthier by substituting ingredients (like sugar and full fat butter) for healthier alternatives (such as pureed fruit, maple syrup, or yogurt based butter).
Family-Friendly Tip 5: Make it fun – like art, it’s okay for cooking to get a little messy! And, mistakes are inevitable, turn those culinary faux pas into learning experiences.
Learning to cook is a life skill. The earlier your kids learn to cook, the more self-reliant they become at home. And, you never know… you might discover there’s a culinary wizard in the house. Young children who develop a passion for cooking could very well establish a career path for the future.
Ready to Get Cooking with Your Kids?
Check out our list of popular locations for family/kids cooking classes in Tampa Bay. And, if you want to get interactive in your own kitchen, gather everyone in the kitchen to watch (and cook along with) some of the hottest kids cooking shows online and on TV.
Cooking Classes around the Tampa Bay Area:
Young Chefs Academy classes for kids of all ages, encourages discovery, creativity, and kitchen-savvy skill development. Classes currently offered in Seminole (727) 350-4587 and Brandon (813)643-7025
Sur La Table (Hyde Park Village) classes and summer camp with a healthy kids, healthy planet theme, teaches cooking fundamentals and science in the kitchen. (813) 258-5601
Let Them Eat Cake (West Shore Blvd) is about more than cake. The Summer Cooking Camp teaches how to prepare everything from apple sauce to sushi, breads to entrees to desserts. (813) 837-6888
FrontLine Chef classes for kids age 8-18, teaches food prep and healthy meal preparation for the family. (727) 631-9733
Sweetwater Organic Community Farm (Tampa) Call for classes and camp schedules (813) 887-4066
Palate Kids Summer Camp (Dunedin) teaches real cooking skills that result in fabulous tasting food. (727) 433-1889
Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium classes for ages 10-100, special teen/tween programs. (813) 653-2418
All Children’s Hospital Education Center Family Nutrition and Cooking classes at various locations, including YMCAs, the hospital, and community centers throughout Tampa Bay area. (727) 582-2122; parents can email questions to achFit4Allkids@jhmi.edu
Sponsored by Kohl’s Cooks for Kids
Public Library Cooking Classes check online or call your local library for upcoming classes
Publix Aprons Cooking School has classes for kids ages 8-12. Call local stores for details. Gunn Hwy store: (813) 926-4465
Williams Sonoma has free themed Junior Chef Classes. Check local stores for details.
Joann Stores Contact local store for details.
Online Resources & Shows that Get Kids Cooking
TheKidsCookMonday.org provides recipes, videos and other resources to get kids involved in cooking all kinds of family meals.
Hey Kids, Let’s Cook (PBS) kids age 6-14 cook healthy and delicious with a nutrition coach
Twice as Good (PBS) Cooking Show for Kids, by Kids hosted by twin sisters on a mission to introduce delicious, healthy cooking and eating to kids across the country. Spiced with a little bit of math, geography, science and history.
Raw, Vegan & Not Gross! (You Tube)
Learn to cook delicious and super nutritious meals that will satisfy and surprise all family members
Master Chef Jr. (Fox) New Season Feb 9 8/7 Central.
Tweens face-off in the kitchen with master chef Gordon Ramsey.
Nerdy Nummies (You-Tube)
Got a sci-fi, anime, or comic book fan in the house? This show serves up treats inspired by popular movies and games.
Kids Baking Championship (Food Network) Monday 8/7 Central.
Flavor and creativity combine when 8 young bakers are challenged to create restaurant quality treats.
*Food Network also features several kids cooking shows and contests.
Written by:Karen Rider.