Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Include Your Kids in Meal Planning: Guest Post by What's Cooking!

I think What's Cooking is amazing! Started by a mom, Michelle, who wanted to incorporate her kids into the whole conversation, I was inspired to ask if she could shed some light on how to make it easier to do just that! One reason I approached her is, my brother is a single dad of four, so every little bit of guidance helps.

Big thanks to Michelle for this incredible share. Please make sure you check out the blog for more awesome ideas on cooking your kids!

From What's Cooking: Cooking with Kids for a better body, planet and community

It’s almost impossible to find a parent who doesn’t eagerly share his or her woes about his or her child’s food “issues.” Some kids refuse to eat anything green. Others only want to eat food that is white. Some love crunchy while others will abstain. Taking each person’s preferences and aversions into account can certainly put a crimp on planning family meals. Don’t despair. By getting your kids involved, they will be more likely to participate peacefully in the family meal (even if they still don’t taste everything on the table).

Just Ask

By simply asking your kids what they would like to eat later in the week, you are acknowledging that their opinion counts. You have veto power, of course, but you can incorporate their idea into your own so that it works for both of you.
Watch TV

I can’t believe that I am suggesting that you watch TV! We aren’t really a TV family, but we find huge value in cooking programs, such as those on our local Public Television station and the Food Network. Nothing can compare to Alton Brown when it comes to inspiring my kids to try something new. And one of my daughter’s favorite recipes was inspired by one we saw nutritionist Ellie Krieger making.

Read Books

Cookbooks, that is…especially ones with lots and lots of pretty pictures. For kids that can’t yet read, like my son, photos are the key ingredient at inspiring his palette.

Surf the Web

The internet is an excellent resource for recipes. Here are a few of our favorite recipe websites:

Meal Makeover Moms
Foodie Tots
The Toddler Cafe
Cooking Light
Food Network

Make a Recipe Box or Binder

Have your kids help you tear favorite recipes out of magazines and newspapers and slide them into sheet protectors, and store them in a binder. If you want to be really organized, you can even use dividers to separate recipes into categories, such as Salads, Sides, Main Dishes and Desserts. Or, if you want to get really fancy, you can even divide the Main Dishes section even further: Poultry, Fish, Vegetarian etc. If you try a recipe and it doesn’t pass the family test, toss the recipe into the recycling bin.

Make a Menu

My kids can get pretty creative, so they love the opportunity to plan a menu, like what they might find in a restaurant (minus the fish sticks and chicken nuggets – not that there is anything wrong with that…). The menu can contain the names of each dish they love at the time. When it is time for you to grocery shop, have them place their order with you!

Travel the World

Not literally (unless you have some extra time and money). Encourage your kids to select a country and research some of the ingredients and recipes that are used there. See if you can eat your way around the globe.

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