Raising Adventurous Eaters: Kids in the Kitchen
One of the biggest challenges my clients face is encouraging their kids to become adventurous eaters. Perhaps this is something you’ve struggled with as well? In addition to making the unfamiliar, more familiar, I always recommend that they get their kids in the kitchen.
There are several ways to do this, depending on the age(s) of your children and your daily routine. It can be as simple as involving your kids when you plan your weekly menu, having them help you shop for groceries, or having them help you cook dinner at the end of the day.
I use each of those strategies in our home, because there’s no doubt about it. My kids are much more willing to try something if they’ve been involved in the process. In the photo above, my youngest son was helping me sauté mushrooms. He told me the entire time he was stirring them that he didn’t like them. But do you know what? We added a few to his quesadilla that night and he ate every bite. And he’s been eating them ever since.
Now that my boys are back in school, though, getting them involved in the kitchen has been a bit more challenging. They aren’t able to shop with me because I generally do my shopping in the morning. And they aren’t able to help with dinner, because on most nights I prepare dinner while they are at practice.
What have we been doing instead?
Would you believe they’re packing their own lunches? And have done so almost every day since school started?
It happened by accident, really. I had a meeting that ran late the night before, my husband was out of town, and when the boys woke up the next morning I asked them if they could get their lunches started while I was making breakfast. Before I knew it, they had filled every container. They were really excited about what they had packed and couldn’t wait to show me.
I thanked them profusely for their help and sent them off to school. And do you know what? They ate their entire lunch that day. Every. Single. Bite.
None of the usual “I was too busy to eat my lunch”, or “I just wasn’t that hungry”.
They ate everything they packed! And they asked if they could do it again the next day!
They’ve been packing their lunches every day since. And do you want to know the best part? They’ve done an amazing job. Their lunches are healthy, balanced, and filled with everything they need to get through the day. And their lunch boxes come home empty. Every day.
Here are a few examples:
Mixed greens with avocado, tomato, onion and grilled chicken, Homemade Chewy Oat and Cacao Energy Bar, mandarin orange, and pecans.
Black beans, avocado, tomato and onion in a sprouted grain tortilla, Homemade Chewy Oat and Cacao Energy Bar, mandarin orange, raw sunflower seeds and raisins.
I’m sure at some point our routine will change and I’ll be back to packing lunches a few days a week. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the ride and continue to tell my boys how very proud I am of the great job they’re doing.
If you had asked me at the start of the year if I thought they were ready to take on this challenge, I would have told you no. Which is exactly why I’m sharing it with you now. Kids have an incredible way of surprising us. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to get your kids involved. Because who knows … your kids just might surprise you as well!
Are your kids packing their own lunches? Or are you planning to give it a try? I’d love to hear your stories. Please share them in the comments below.