Why You Should Show Kids Where Food Comes From
Many little ones do not meet the recommended amount of daily fruit and vegetables. A balanced plate with the nutrients children require gives their little bodies what it needs to fuel playtime. The problem is, how do you get kids to eat all these wonderful nutrients if they’re picky eaters?
We asked Caroline Weeks, a pediatric registered dietician nutritionist, if she had any suggestions on how to make picky eaters less fussy. She sent us this short video about how to raise adventurous eaters. One of Caroline’s tips is to involve children in the meal creation process to increase the chance that they’ll try new foods. The trick is showing them where food comes from.
Where to start? Take your little love into the garden, have them help with meal planning, and tell them to wash their hands because they’ve been promoted to sous chef.
Kids in the Garden
What better way to show your child where food comes from than to start at the source? Growing a garden together is a healthy, fun activity with fresh produce as the result of a little hard work.
Younger children need supervision, but they can help water, harvest produce, and plant seeds (or even just play and dig around in the dirt as a starting point!). Older children can dig, plant, mulch, prune, harvest, weed, gather seeds, and more
How Gardening Helps a Picky Eater
Watching their hard work turn into edible food is exciting for your little bub. Seeds or seedlings, turn plain soil into peas, pumpkins, tomatoes, zucchini, beets, and more. Caring for these plants makes them more invested in the end result. Growing their own food makes them feel proud, and they’re more likely to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Other Benefits of Gardening with Kids
Not only is gardening a great way to keep kids busy, but it helps develop other lifelong skills too. Kids learn about science and nature while growing for their own food. It also teaches them patience and resourcefulness. Knowing that you can grow your own food rather than buy it at the grocery store is really cool!
Meal Planning with Kids
Nominate your little one as your household helper and have them get involved with food and menu tasks. Giving kids a bit of say when it comes to planning meals empowers them. Try to incorporate some of their favorite fruits, veggies, or preferred meals throughout the week to encourage their enthusiasm.
How Meal Planning Helps a Picky Eater
When children have a say (even a little one) in what’s put in front of them, they’re more likely to become more adventurous eaters. Involving them in meal planning and grocery shopping helps them feel like they have an important job, and this responsibility may encourage them to try more food.
Other Benefits of Shopping and Meal Planning with Kids
At the grocery store, you can introduce your child to new food items. If they seem dubious about parsnips, bring some home and look up parsnip recipes together. There are plenty of child-friendly websites and cookbooks that have pictures that may appeal to a child’s palate.
When children help with shopping, they learn about different food groups, how to choose quality produce, understand the cost of items, plan balanced meals, and other life skills. It connects the dots for them between the food at the grocery store and what’s on their plates.
Kids in the Kitchen
It’s never too early to have your little one in the kitchen. Even babies benefit from being around when mom and dad are cooking. Seeing and smelling what’s in the kitchen sets the stage for what kinds of foods they’ll be eating when they transition to solids.
Kitchen Jobs by Age
Safety in the kitchen is paramount and little ones should only do jobs that they are capable of without the danger of hot stoves or sharp knives. Use your judgement as to when they’re ready to take on more complex tasks.
Older children can take on some more advanced tasks. Get them to help with preheating the oven, stirring sauce on the stove (with supervision), measuring out ingredients, using an apple peeler, cracking eggs, sifting flour, and more.
How Being in the Kitchen Helps a Picky Eater
Simply being around new foods helps kids become more familiar and more willing to try new things—maybe not today, but perhaps the next time you cook with it.
Taking part in meal preparation can increase your little one’s appreciation for their food. When they experience the hard work that goes into cooking a meal, they recognize that there’s a lot more to it than a parent putting a plate in front of them. Helping make a meal and seeing family eat it gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride (especially if you tell them they did a fantastic job).
Other Benefits of Cooking with Kids
Cooking together is quality time that also helps children’s development. Motor skills get refined over time with some of the skills used in cooking, such as pouring, rolling, sprinkling, and mixing. Preparing food also teaches little ones about healthy eating, portion sizes, and planning. No matter how your little one helps with food, whether it’s in the garden, shopping for food, cooking in the kitchen, or all of the above, let them know how much you appreciate their help. A positive experience may make them more inclined to try new foods.
Breaking down the barriers of where food comes from encourages kids to eat food they may not want to try otherwise. Expanding their palate and introducing them to fresh and delicious food sets them up for a lifetime of successful and healthy eating.
How does your little one help you with food prep?
Tell us below in the comments.