1.It’s fun! It sounds stressful and admittedly, sometimes it can be. But by preparing beforehand and letting some standards slightly slip (rustically chopped veg is still delicious!) then you can watch the wild glee in little Ava’s eyes as she maniacally mashes potatoes. Or watch the pride in Henry’s eyes as he sees his family eating the delicious spring rolls that he cooked for dinner. It’s fun family time that can be as stress free as you make it!
2.It’s giving them essential life skills. Just think, in 16 years time when they’ve moved into uni halls and their friends are living off super noodles, you can rest assured that your child will hopefully be avoiding scurvy because he’s grown up learning how to prepare tasty, healthy and cheap food. The snipping, chopping, mashing and grating that he learns with you will be skills he takes with him for life.
3.It’s not just cooking skills. We’re learning colours, shapes, increasing our motor skills and our vocabulary just from chopping up a squash or snipping some herbs. It’s an all rounder of an activity that is crucial for development.
4.It’s screen-free! Ok, so your morning was stressful. Cbeebies and Bing Bunny have babysat all morning whilst you attempted to chug down a lukewarm coffee and juggle life. We’ve all been there. Now dust yourself off, get in the kitchen with your little ones and bask in the warm glow as the parenting guilt slowly drifts away.
5.Fussy eaters be gone! Much like how they’ll eat from your plate but not from theirs, it’s a known fact that children will be more willing to try new foods if they’ve made it themselves. They may have lived on pesto pasta for the past month but now they’ve slaved over a hot stove (or watched you do it whilst they’ve chopped a carrot to within an inch of its life) then suddenly they’re eating. Actually eating. Yes that was three different vegetables you just saw them pop into their mouth. And you didn’t have to hide them in a sauce. This is your parenting highlight. Run with it. Bask in it. And hide the pesto before they remember it exists!
6.Play the long game. Sure today you’re knee deep in nose wiping and nappy changing. Yes you may not have had time to brush your hair before the nursery drop off and your car is full of extinct rice cakes. But it’s not forever. One day they’ll wander into your bedroom having made you the perfect cup of tea and a cooked breakfast and you’ll remember these days with a wry smile and just the smallest hint of leftover shellshock. And it’s all because one day when your nerves were frayed and you just wanted it to be bathtime, you let them loose in the kitchen and showed them what to do.
7.We’re in a crisis. Let’s get serious for a moment. The world is erupting around us. The planet can’t sustain our lifestyles forever, there’s more food banks than McDonald’s in the fifth richest country in the world and we all need to do our bit. We can’t single handedly save the world but we can make tiny changes. These could be a few days meat free. Or not using expensive foods in a tonne of packaging. It could be baking some treats for someone who is struggling. Whatever the motivation it’s our children who will bear the brunt of our choices today. Let’s show them how tiny little changes can still have an impact.
8.It’s quality time. We rush from here to there, we have broken conversations as we rush them out of the door and then back in it. We try and read bedtime stories whilst checking work emails on the sly.
And we hope it’s enough. Let’s do more than enough. Let’s leave the phone in the living room, coax them away from terrorising the cat or drawing on the wallpaper and let’s just take 15 minutes where we can give our undivided attention as we work together to cook dinner or a tasty snack.
9.It’s confidence boosting. Even the most timid little boy or girl can help to cook. It doesn’t matter if they’re standing 6 feet away as you talk through what you’re doing or if they’re too scared to chop the veg at first. The more familiar it becomes the less they’ll worry about getting it wrong or it being scary. The pride and praise will have them reaching for the recipe books in no time, telling all their friends about how much fun they had.
10.“Where do potatoes come from?” “Tesco…?” Knowing what they’re eating and where it comes from is so important when raising children. Understanding how food gets from the farm to our fork, what countries different ingredients come from and more can open them up to a world of knowledge, understanding and experiences that they might not come across otherwise. Knowledge is power and informed choices about different types of food, moderation and healthier swaps is key to preventing childhood obesity and many other health problems.
There’s many reasons to get in that kitchen with your kids. It’s fun, messy and not only provides you with instagrammable adorableness from your little one in a chef’s hat but also provides the strong foundations for a healthy lifestyle. What’s not to love about it? If you want to get started but have no idea how then why not check out our 9 for 5 recipe campaign? One recipe a week for nine weeks for the grand price of a fiver and each recipe has several variations that mean you can turn one meal into many many meals!