A forgotten tradition in many households is coming together to prepare meals as a family. Between busy work schedules, extracurricular activities, and the disruption the events of 2020 have caused to our day-to-day routine, these are just a few of the reasons why we can’t find the time to contribute in the kitchen and cook as a group.
When the entire family is involved from grocery shopping to meal prep to cleanup, everyone is more likely to enjoy the experience and welcome healthier eating habits on a more consistent basis. Group involvement allows individuals and entire families to channel their culinary creativity, explore different cultural recipes, and examine each step of food preparation. In turn, this can lead to a greater understanding and excitement toward the beauty of food and sharing meals.
An early introduction to the kitchen is especially important for children. It engages their senses, introduces new foods, and teaches them about kitchen safety. It allows children to touch and taste new foods they haven’t seen or heard of before, and exposing them to fresh, healthy ingredients is the first step in establishing a healthy lifestyle that they maintain for a lifetime.
Chances are, your parents made you help in the kitchen. Whether it was unloading groceries, stirring the sauce, rising veggies, or simply licking the spoon, we all have some memory contributing in the kitchen. Maybe this is where you found your love of food or maybe this is why you have the local Chinese restaurant on speed-dial and stay far away from the kitchen. Either way, getting everyone involved in the kitchen is a memorable experience.
If you’re hoping to excite your family about mealtime, there are a few easy methods anyone can explore to get the entire household involved. Let’s take a look!
1. Farm to fork: Growing your own fruits, veggies, and herbs is a great way to teach your family about fresh ingredients and get them involved from the very beginning. If you do not have a garden, you can start with potted plants. Some of the easiest veggies and herbs you can start with are tomatoes and basil—they pretty much do all the work; you just have to give them plenty of water and a healthy dose of sunlight. Family members ought to be more enthused about food when they cook something they’ve grown and brought to life. This brings your meal preparation full circle and allows you to participate in every step along the way.
2. Delegate food groups: Assign each member of your family a specific food group to oversee. You can even choose a theme for your meal and allow each family member to decide what they want to prepare. You can delegate tasks according to age and difficulty, or you can work it out as a family. For instance, if you’re preparing an Italian feast, one person can be responsible for boiling the water for pasta, while another person can control the salad bar or try their hand at making the homemade meatballs.
3. Make it fun: Cooking and spending time in the kitchen should be an exciting experience with a creative outlet. Be bold and don’t be afraid to experiment with unique foods and flavors. Showcase foods from other cultures that you normally wouldn’t cook with. Play with colors, textures, and even plating presentations to create a truly unique meal.
4. Team grocery shopping: Take a family trip to your local grocery store or produce market and have everyone pick out a few key ingredients you could use to prepare a meal. This allows each person to explore different flavors and conceptualize how a complete meal can come together. If you’re excited about an ingredient you hand-selected, then you’ll be even more eager to rush home and cook with that food item you personally chose.
5. Establish roles for children: It doesn’t matter how big or small the task is, children love to get their hands dirty and help their parents. Decide which tasks are appropriate for your child’s age and skill level. If they are still too young to read, allow them to measure portions, mix ingredients, or work the pepper grinder.
You can also allow them to set the table, load the dishwasher, rinse produce, and organize items in your fridge or pantry. If your kids are older, discuss knife safety and let them try their hand at chopping veggies. Remember, as fun as cooking is, it can be equally educational. Measuring ingredients can act as a miniature math lesson, and exploring different foods has its own built-in geography course.
Share More Than Meals
A big aspect of cooking is cherishing the time you get to spend as a family. Sharing stories, laughs, and engaging conversation make mealtime that much more special. Especially when life gets busy, it’s always nice to unwind and focus on the small moments that matter most.
Meal planning and preparation can be time-consuming and overwhelming, but making sure you have all-hands-on-deck will lead to a pleasant experience for all.
If you need even more ways to get your family involved, look toward your appliances. High-end kitchen appliances with a multitude of smart features make it easy to take charge of mealtime and include your entire household. If you think it’s time to upgrade your cooking tools, give us a call, browse our online catalog, or visit us in-store.