Celebrate National Eat Together Week and Win Kid’s Cooking Sets!

4139990136_2ab5b38ba2_o

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.

5037426101_09809446d3_b

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.

2457254315_f3d094bd9a_b

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.

All-Star Pork Meatballs

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serves 6

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 egg

1/4 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine ground pork, onion flakes, corn flakes, salt, pepper and egg. In a small bowl stir together ketchup, brown sugar and dry mustard. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the ketchup mixture into the pork and mix well. Spray muffin tin with vegetable cooking spray. Form 6 meatballs and place in muffin tin. Coat the top of each meatball with the remaining ketchup mixture. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F., until nicely glazed and internal temperature is 160 degrees F.

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.

Photo credit: FCC, Rachel Tayse, ValentinaPowersEyeLiam.

26 thoughts on “Celebrate National Eat Together Week and Win Kid’s Cooking Sets!

  1. I love this! I take my kids shopping all the time and let them choose the fruits and vegetables that we will be eating. They love doing it and it makes them feel really involved. THey also love baking and so I let them do the measuring and mixing and they really get into it.

  2. During the summer, I like to bring my children to pick-your-own farms to find delicious, ripe produce. Also, we have made a “game” out of trying new fruits and vegetables. If we see something new and unusual in the produce department, we buy it and try to figure out a way to eat it. I think it helps to show the kids that sometimes mommy and daddy try new vegetables, too.

  3. Those are good tips. Our CSA has been a huge help in getting my kids excited to cook. They can’t wait to see what the farmer is bringing us and are more inclined to eat it when they see it in box. Just something different from shopping in a market. In addition to the list in #5 above, we have two sturdy stools to make sure everyone is at counter level for helping. One last thing I also do is I’m always flipping through cookbooks- the more colorful pictures the better (which makes my Alice Watters books not that appealing for them). They’ll always see something that looks good in the picture and want to make it. Another way to get them to try new things. Great post-thanks.

  4. Well, for starters… I gave my kid his own food blog. Now he’s very interested in doing things in the kitchen! I talk to my son a lot while I’m cooking in the kitchen myself- about what I’m doing and about ingredients I’m using. He’s gotten to the point where he likes to pick out things at the market for us to cook with- things that look interesting to him. I’ve introduced him to Farmer’s Markets, and we visit quite a few restaurants with quite a wide range of ethnic foods. Getting your kids interested in the process of creating is the first step to getting them in there to create and help themselves.

  5. My 3yo loves to bake with me! Actually just last week she burst into tears when I showed her the cookies I’d made for her. It turns out she had wanted to help. :-) I think both of my kids see how much I enjoy cooking and they like to take part as well. Today we made corn tortillas – my daughter got to squish the masa in her hands, roll it into a ball like play-doh and pat it into a circle. I handled the griddling. :-)

  6. We are particular that meal times are together with the family and not in front of the tv. Getting my daughter help me lay the table gets her interest in sitting at the table she’s laid so lovingly. Coming to helping me bake rather than cook, her (6 year old) all time fav has been mmixing and lining the tray for cupcakes. Tossing the salad is another fav. Off late she loves the season the simple salads. I guess when she prepares it she is more interested in eating them too. Note she being a picky veggie eater.

  7. My three girls and I have been cooking together since they were affixed to me in the Baby Bjorn. My oldest, now 13, enjoys reading cooking magazines and helped me create a binder full of our favorite recipes. She surprised us the other night with Gratin Dauphinois, Salad with a homemade French vinaigrette, and creme brulee–it wasn’t light, but it sure was delicious! Cooking has come in handy in another way since school has started, though. My 8 year old is struggling with reading comprehension and doesn’t love to read. Since she enjoys cooking, I have her read recipes and follow the instructions. This has helped her realize the importance of understanding what she reads and she’s made some delicious treats.

  8. My grandkids — 12, 5 and 2 — all know that Nonna loves to cook and I think that, like Kathy said, having seen me have fun (and tasting the good things that come from the kitchen) they want to get their hands in. They love it. We just need to, as their mother says, “expand their food repertoire.” But involving them in planning meals, posting on the fridge, shopping, then cooking together are what works for that little family.

  9. Let the kids into the kitchen, give them space to work and be prepared to clean up whatever messes they make. After all, someone (my mom) cleaned many kitchen messes that I created. My 13 year old loves to bake and makes treats for her friends. My 5 year old is the official egg cracker and stirrer. She can make honey mustard, tasting as she goes until it’s “just right.” She can also scramble eggs, with adult supervision, of course. I also have several kid cookbooks on hand and we read through them, selecting recipes that are appealing & for which we have ingredients on hand.

  10. My children always loved to cook with me. They are parents now and due to the busy world we live in, they don’t get to cook as much as they would like to, so teaching the cooking to the grand kids is my pleasure.

  11. to encourage my kids i let them help plan, shop and prepare a favorite meal per week. initially these were not always the most nutritious meals, but they have learned some important skills and their choices have improved along the way!

  12. My 4-year old loves to help in the kitchen. She puts on her own apron, and I let her stir, mix, and dump in the ingredients. She is very enthusiastic and has so much fun!

  13. I let my 4 year old come up with her own recipes. So far she has made Red Apple Smiles, Peanut Butter balls. Whenever she comes up with a recipe, everyone in the family has to try it. She also goes grocery shopping with me. We also make it a point to eat and try different things/cuisines so she has developed a taste for trying new things.

    Also if I notice she is interested in a cuisine or a specific food is discussed in one of her books or we go see a cultural concert, I take it a few steps further. We go out and eat that food, or we make it at home etc.. This way her books/concerts come to “Life” and she has learned something more .

  14. Garden with them! I gave my nephew (4) his own raised bed and bought “dwarf” varieties and multicolored vegetables. He loved picking peas, strawberries, bright yellow chard and pulling up tiny, purple carrots. We would then cook together. He never took an interest in vegetables until he was “in charge” of them.

  15. I get my son (5 1/2) involved in the preparation and let him taste when it’s appropriate. He loves to chop nuts, sprinkle things, mix things and dump things. I make sure to show him what it looks like when it goes into the oven, and what it looks like when it is finished. He loves to try new things.

  16. We just purchased our daughter a used learning tower. Now she can safely help in the kitchen. She loves being able to see what is happening and I now don’t have to worry about her falling!

  17. My granddaughter is just 2 but she already shows great interest in cooking. I hope to make a ritual of cooking something with her whenever we’re together but haven’t quite decided what that will be.

    Since she is a tomato devotee, we have picked tomatoes and eaten them right off the vine!
    I’m going to make her bruschetta soon, as I think she will love it.

    Thank you for this giveaway!

  18. I try to do as much preparing as I can on Sundays for weekly dinners. On Saturdays the kids have loved to take turns baking something special, such as cupcakes for a family birthday or morning pancakes. For baking, they have learned that it’s important to have exact measurements, while casseroles, etc. sometimes call for throwing in what you think looks good. They take turns and suggest what they want to cook. It’s always been a good idea to have a sturdy wooden kitchen chair for them to stand on.

  19. My son is 12 – but since he was just over a year old, I have always had him in the kitchen with me. We’ve spent endless hours cooking and talking about food over the years. Visiting plants and farms to see where food comes from. We also incorporate weekly cooking into our homeschool routine. It’s SOOO important!! It’s sad to think that some kids never get taught about food. :(

  20. My two year old loves to help me cook. We have a Learning Tower for her to stand in while we cook, it’s much safer then a chair or stool. It’s our favorite kitchen item. Lily loves to help me dump the measuring cups in bowls and she helps stir. She’s a great help. She also loves to do dishes. :)

  21. Congratulations to Sprigs of Rosemary! You’re the winner of the give-away. Many thanks to all of you for sharing your wonderful tips and making eating together a whole lot more meaningful.

    Cheers,
    Susan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>