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kids who preprare their own meals

Get Kids Eating More Veges!

Children who help to prepare their own meals eat significantly more vegetables than those who are not involved in cooking, a Nestlé study1 published in the journal Appetite suggests.

The research, carried out by the Nestlé Research Center, compared what children chose to eat when they helped cook their own meal with what they consumed when they did not.

“The study found that children who were in the kitchen, cooking with a parent, ate more overall of their meal, and a significantly larger amount of vegetables,” said Nestle Group Nutrition Manager, Susan Kevork.

“The result suggest that involving children in food preparation could help develop healthy eating habits and increase vegetable consumption,” she added.

The study also showed that helping to prepare a meal improved how children felt about themselves, with those who cooked feeling more positive emotions and pride.

MAGGI has a range of products that make cooking with kids easy and rewarding, such as MAGGI Stir Fry Creations – to help you make a colourful, quick and delicious meal that is packed full of veges – or the new MAGGI Best Ever Burger – a kid’s favourite!

Here’s some tips on how to have fun cooking with your kids:

  1. Take your time – expect everything to take longer than it usually would so set aside extra time for cooking and be aware, that particularly for younger children, the journey is as much fun as the destination!
  2. Expect a lot of mess – cooking is a messy business and when kids are involved there’ll be even more. Put a plastic tablecloth down on the floor or a tray underneath their work station but ultimately you’ll all have more fun if you just let the mess happen and then clear up together at the end.
  3. Plan ahead – select an appropriate recipe, one that they’ll enjoy and that involves plenty of activities that are suitable for their age. Make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment at the ready. If necessary, do some preparation, before you ask them to join you. Baking is fun but if you need to get the evening meal ready, think about how they might help you to do that.
  4. Get them ready – put them in clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, put an apron on and tie back long hair.
  5. Teach children about food hygiene – ensure they wash their hands beforehand and in between touching raw and cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
  6. Talk through the recipe – with older children, you can get them to read out the steps beforehand and get out what will be needed, talk through the processes and plan who’s going to do what. With younger children, simply explain what you’re making and show any pictures to help with understanding and a sense of purpose.
  7. Talk about the food – as you’re cooking, talk about ingredients, where they’re from and why they’re good for you.
  8. Touching and tasting – this will make the experience more enjoyable for them, encourage more adventurous eating plus it’s a good opportunity to teach children which foods are safe to eat raw.
  9. Age and ability – many children’s recipes have age guidelines but look at your own child and recognise what they are capable of doing. There are always activities for every child, even if it’s just messing around in the sink washing vegetables and plastic containers while grown-ups and older children chop and cook.
  10. Make it fun! Children will learn to love cooking if you relax and have fun with them in the kitchen. If you feel nervous, start with basic recipes, they’re still a good learning experience. Only step in when it’s absolutely necessary, otherwise let them enjoy and create.

1Appetite April 2014 Involving children in meal preparation: Effects on food intake. Klazine van der Horst, Aurore Ferrage, Andreas Rytz

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