This Holiday Season
Jessica Ortiz, RD, LDN
Healthy Living Department
YMCA of Florida’s First Coast
The holidays are a delightful time to share family traditions or create new ones, especially in the kitchen. This year, encourage your whole family to join in as a team on all the kitchen fun! Preparing and cooking your family holiday meal together is a great way to bond and foster teamwork in your kitchen. Depending on the age group and abilities of the family, there are several things in the kitchen that every member of the family can help do to assist with meal prepping and cooking.
Turn dinner time into more quality time by finding ways for everyone to be involved. Cooking together can not only be fun and teach the whole family new skills, but also build confidence, responsibility, practice following directions, improve listening, reading, math—the benefits can go on and on. Following a recipe allows for every member in the family to be involved in one way or another.
Here are a few ideas to get the whole family involved in planning, preparing and cooking your next holiday meal:
Plan the menu together
●Make a collaborative list of options for what sides to cook and serve. Ask your kids if they would rather have green bean casserole or a corn souffle if you’re determining which dishes to prepare.
●Look through recipes and make a shopping list together. Try categorizing the list by sections of the grocery store to make it easier come shopping time.
in a fun way
●Teach your family about the powers of vegetables and allow room for creativity by giving dishes superhero names such as “Brainiac Beans.” By actively engaging in cooking activities, children learn about food and nutrition.
●Growing a garden is a great way to get your family excited about cooking while taking pride in something they were involved in creating.
●This is also a great opportunity to teach children proper serving sizes and the MyPlate method by allowing them to build their own plates. Check out www.choosemyplate.gov for more information and family fun nutrition activities.
●Split up in teams and have a cooking competition or set up a race to see who can finish a certain task first- such as washing and peeling carrots, or peeling and washing shrimp.
●Let the kids choose or add the toppings to one of your dishes, like the final touch of marshmallows on the sweet potato pie, or helping to crush candy canes and pecans if that is part of the recipe. Kids will enjoy taking ownership of a dish they helped create and may even get them to try new foods.
Always ensure kitchen safety by giving everyone age-appropriate tasks: little ones can do the mixing and pouring, while teenagers and adults can handle anything heavy, sharp or hot.
The holidays are a great time to get the kids involved in the kitchen. Instead of stressing about preparing your next family meal, find ways to engage your kids and turn it into a fun family memory.
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