What is one simple step to make sure your children will grow up to make smart food choices, get good grades in school, maintain a healthy weight, and be less likely to try drugs? It’s something as simple—and easy to pull off—as making dinner with your children in the kitchen and sitting down to a meal.
Remember the Meatless Monday movement I mentioned in this post as a healthy lifestyle choice?
There is another initiative under the umbrella of The Monday Campaigns to get children to work with family members in the household and help prepare the meal for dinner. Getting kids in the kitchen means exposing them to a variety of different meals made from scratch. They get to understand the journey of where their food comes from and how it makes it to the dinner plate.
The idea is to use the first day of the work/school week as a springboard to help prepare a meal in the kitchen, and share thoughts about the meal, in conversation at the table. It’s the first day of a new week and a positive way to get your week off to a good start.
Each Monday can be seen as a new beginning—a chance to make the commitment for kids to help in the kitchen, and have a meal together with parents and caregivers. The kitchen is loaded with potential science and math conversations. Why does cheese bubble when its melted? Is ¾ cup of milk more or less than ½ cup? If a recipe calls for 5 tablespoons of an ingredient, and you are doubling the recipe, how many tablespoons do you need now?
Don’t be intimidated by the thought of preparing meals from scratch. Head over to The Kids Cook Monday website for easy-to-follow recipes and ideas to get your kids helping in the dinner preparation.
The goal is to get children involved with dinner, not to prepare an elaborate meal that looks like it was created by an Iron Chef. Dinner for Monday night can be as simple as picking up prepared pizza dough, a can of crushed tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, a bunch of fresh basil or oregano, and having a Make Your Own Pizza Night at home. Get kids involved with meal preparation, so that they want to try more foods and ingredients.
The family schedule is extremely busy these days, and there are so many opportunities to “tune out” from each other. Bring everyone back to the kitchen, and the dinner table, for healthy food and conversation. Can’t do Mondays? Choose another night that works for your family’s schedule. Just make the pledge to cook healthy food with your children and enjoy a meal together.
Alice Knisley Matthias is a mom of two boys who love to trade weird-but-true facts. She writes about food, family, education and garden. She loves to cook, grow fresh herbs, and believes in an organic lifestyle for her family in the kitchen and the garden. Her work has appeared in Eating Well, Highlights for Children, Boys’ Life, Chicken Soup for the Soul, What to Expect, Cook n’ Scribble and an America’s Test Kitchen Cook’s Country Cookbook. She is the author of herbinkitchen.com and a regular blogger for KIDS DISCOVER.