5 Tips to get kids involved

Teach kids to set the table

Get kids to set the table. Both of mine enjoy this and it’s a good way to get them involved.  Teach tiny ones to put bibs, plastic spoons and cups on the table. 

Let kids mix things into their meals

To get them more involved in their food, let kids mix things into their meals at the table. At different times we’ve given ours grated cheese, a pepper grinder that doesn’t really work, finely sliced mint and olive oil. (I've been told that extra virgin olive oil is the closest thing to mother’s milk.) When getting our kids to eat has been hard, we give them pasta or couscous with the sauce separately and let them mix everything together themselves. It can mean more cleaning afterwards but it’s worth it when they eat cheerfully. 

Show them what food really looks like

 

Show kids what food really is. If they eat something that is pre-prepared, try to make sure they see, touch and smell the real thing at some early stage. Berries in yogurt, carrots in puree, a whole fish, you can do this do this while you shop, while you cook, or do it with books.  Talk to kids about which vegetables grow above and which grow below the ground. If you get a chance, take them to a pick-your-own farm. 

Taste together

Taste and finish meals with kids. Even when they haven’t been cooking with me, I’ll often ask Jake and James to taste a sauce or dressing before I dish up; and they’re almost always really pleased to be asked. When they’re a bit older and it’s a bit safer, I’m going to get them to help me dish the food up, either at the table or in the kitchen. 

After dinner adventures with fruit

I love this time after dinner. Make a game of pudding and make it fruit. Cut and share the fruit at the table. We often sing a song too. Try getting two varieties of apples or pears so you can try a Conference next to a Comice, and kids can realise that even pears can be different shapes and sizes. If you can take your kids shopping, get them to help choose.