Make It Healthy, Make It Fun: Six Ways to Involve Kids in the Kitchen

Six Ways to Involve Kids in the Kitchen

Resist the urge to shoo the kids out of the kitchen. Invite them in -- children are more likely to eat a healthy meal if they helped make it.

1. Use your child as sous chef
With a little training, extra hands are invaluable at dinnertime. Beyond measuring and mixing, kids can be taught to pluck herbs, wash vegetables, crack eggs, crush nuts, crumble toppings, zest lemons, shell peas, mash potatoes, and more.

2. Make the unfamiliar familiar
If your kids won't eat meatballs with green specks in them, take the mystery away. Have them make the meatballs from scratch and mix in the "green stuff" -- it will be far less suspect. Similarly, if hummus, brussel sprouts, and artichokes are as common in your kitchen as ketchup, carrots, and apples, kids won't think twice about trying them.

3. Think outside the baking pan
Instead of making a big pan of lasagna or casserole, have the kids assemble mini portions in ramekins. Then they can control the amount of cheese, meat and vegetables in their own serving. Other ideas for mini meals: individual pizzas with custom toppings, calzones in muffin pans, and salads in ice cream cones.

4. Get creative at snack time
Kids consume many of their calories at snack time. Use snack time as an opportunity to introduce healthy foods, without the pressure of putting a full meal on the table. Teach kids to make "sushi" rolls with peanut butter and jelly, let them use a dull knife to spread soft cheese on crackers, or make kabobs out of cheese cubes and fruits.

5. Let the kids make dinner
Put your child in charge of a whole meal, from picking the recipes, making a shopping list, and finding the ingredients in the grocery store to preparing the food, setting the table, and plating the meal. When kids are invested in dinner, chances are they'll eat it.

6. Turn the kitchen into a classroom
What makes a cake rise? How many quarter cups are in a whole cup? What's the third step in that recipe? Math, reading, science -- it's all in the kitchen. Make dinner prep a part of your daily routine with no guilt that it's stealing time from homework.

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