When my 9 and 11-year-old nieces from Rhode Island came to visit us in San Diego last year we took them to Sea World, The San Diego Zoo, and Lego Land. We went swimming, we swung on monkey bars, and we whirled round-and-round on a carousel. I made sure they wouldn’t miss a thing.
Yet when the 11-year-old called her dad one night, the first thing she said was, “Auntie Susan taught me how to make this awesome sausage and egg breakfast scramble. I’m gonna make it for you when I get home!”
In fact, they wanted to help me cook all of the meals. Each night, without prompting, they’d compete over who got to make the salad and who got to set the table. In those fews days together, the 9-year-old became a master egg cracker while her older sister learned to make corn bread from scratch.
Scheduled family meals have been in decline in America for decades. Fortunately, that’s changing. Studies show that children who eat meals with their families are less likely to suffer behavior problems, more likely to perform well in school, more likely to try new foods, and more likely to eat healthfully as adults.
The folks at the National Pork Board value family meals which is why this week, September 18-24th they are celebrating National Eat Together Week. For that past 16 years America’s pork producers have encouraged families to enjoy eating meals together not just for a week but all year-round. And getting your children active in the kitchen is a fun and effective way to get them more excited about sharing family meals.
Here are 5 tips to get your kids cooking in the kitchen:
1. Ask your children what they’d like to learn to cook. Selecting a new cut of meat or an unfamiliar vegetable can spark creativity and get them interested in trying new foods.
2. Get them involved in the weekly menu planning. Letting kids make decisions about what the family will eat will make them feel empowered and more excited about meal times.
3. Cook with them when you’re not rushed. You’ll need extra time and patience.
4. Start with simple recipes first, always read through them together, and always get all of your ingredients and kitchen tools set up on the counter before you start cooking.
5. Have kid-friendly tools available such as wooden spoons, plastic mixing bowls, measuring cups, whisks, and child-proof knives. Don’t forget colorful aprons, chef’s hats, and kitchen towels too!
To help encourage your child to cook, we’re offering a fabulous give-away! One lucky Pork, Knife & Spoon reader is going to win an KID-TASTIC gift set for a budding cook including:
*One 17-piece measuring and prep kit from Curious Chef
*One 8-piece cutlery and serving set from Curious Chef
*One Child’s Textile set including apron, chef’s hat, and oven mitts from Curious Chef
*One Kids’ Pork Cookbook from the National Pork Board
Here’s what you have to do to win:
In the comment section below tell us some of your tips and suggestions for getting your kids involved with cooking and meal planning. Want more chances to win? Tweet about this post and mention @porkandknife! Want even more chances? Take a moment to “Like” the Pork Be Inspired Facebook page, and let me know. Deadline: 12 midnight, PST, Saturday, September 24th.
Now let’s get cooking! These All-Star Pork Meatballs from the National Pork Board are ideal for little hands. Older children can read the instructions and measure ingredients while even wee, young ones can help roll the meatballs. They’re perfect for a weeknight dinner and make great leftovers for lunch the next day. Here are more deliciously porky, kid-friendly recipes.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon onion flakes
3/4 cup Corn Flakes, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Fun for kids to make—and eat, too! These meatballs are oversized and cook easily in the oven. Scalloped potatoes and buttered green beans make the meal completed.