Even if you don’t really enjoy cooking yourself, teaching your kids to cook should be an important focus as they’re growing up. You may even find that you enjoy cooking more alongside your children or feel compelled to seek out new recipes, techniques, or tools to help them with their cooking education.
New Zealanders and nutrition
In a world where we can purchase ready-made or packaged food so easily, there has been a shift away from cooking every meal from scratch. The consequences of a diet high in these types of meals can be disastrous for health though. According to the Ministry of Health’s annual survey, only 4 in 10 New Zealanders eat the recommended amount of daily fruit and vegetables, obesity rates have risen over the last 10 years to 32%, and levels of high cholesterol among the population have risen to 11.5%. The implications of a poor diet, particularly one high in processed foods, include excess body fat, diabetes, and heart disease, with the chances of these all increasing as you get older.
Even if children are taught about nutrition, the chances of having a nutritious diet after they leave home decrease if they don’t know how to cook beforehand. Even if they have a partner that can cook, relationships may fail and then they’re back left with the option of learning to cook solo, ordering healthy meals all the time (which can get expensive), or, of course, the fall-back option of choosing pre-made and highly processed foods.
Teaching children to cook
The growing brain has a high propensity for learning, which means that if you teach kids how to cook when they’re young, instilling basic to advanced principles (and hopefully a love for cooking) they’ll be set for life. Children can start being taught to cook pretty much from the age they start to walk. Perhaps at this age, they can help out with tasks like spinning the wet lettuce for a salad.
There are plenty of age-appropriate healthy kids’ recipes you can find available online. Check out sites like BBC Good Food’s kid’s collection or the Heart Foundation’s healthy recipes for kids. Make sure to bookmark any that end up being favourites.
Or the grandkids?
If your children have grown up but you have grandchildren you can still get involved, too. Perhaps their parents aren’t actively involved their children in the kitchen but that’s no reason why you can’t help out – make it a fun activity for whenever they come over to visit.