How to get your family to help prepare meals. 4 parenting tips.

“Families that eat together stay together”–or so the saying goes. And it’s true! Meal time is a valuable time to catch up on each other’s lives and grow closer. It’s a chance for parents to show how much they care about and love their children. It’s a chance for children to share the ups and downs of their day. Meals are the pause button in life and are extremely important in helping families stick together and support each other.

Preparing meals is another terrific opportunity to strengthen your family’s relationship. Whether it’s a leisurely Saturday morning breakfast or a hearty weeknight dinner, getting the whole family involved in preparing the meal is a fun way to spend time together and teach valuable skills. Below are some parenting tips to get everyone to help prepare meals.

1. Get the family involved in picking meals and shopping.

Keep each member of your family happy by letting them pick their favorite meals. Add those meals to your meal plan and take everyone, or just the older kids, with you to the grocery store. You can take different kids with you each time you shop, so everyone gets a chance to pick out the ingredients. Seeing the bright colors of the fruits and vegetables and picking out which herbs to add to the meal will get your kids excited to not only eat the food but help make it too.

2. Pick age-appropriate tasks.

Decide what chores are best for your kids. Children between 2 and 3 years old are really good at bringing things to you. Keep toddler busy during meal preparation by having them put dishes away or bring dishes to the table. Toddlers might also be able to help mix salad, or they can just watch what others are doing. Older kids can pour in pre-measured ingredients. Teenagers can help cook meats and cut up vegetables.

3. Assign a different task each night or week.

To avoid boredom, rotate tasks, so everyone gets to do something different. This also helps give everyone a chance to learn all steps in meal preparation.

4. Use meal preparation as an educational opportunity.

Have your kids look up information about their chore. If your teenager needs to cut up peppers for the meal, have him look up other meals that contain peppers or research where peppers grow best. While your toddler watches her older brother cut the pepper for your meal she can also color a picture of a pepper. Turning meal preparation into an educational opportunity gets your family involved even more. Have fun and get creative!