More than nine in 10 parents (93 percent) confirm that after cooking with their kids in the kitchen, their children have a better understanding and appreciation for healthy foods and eating, according to a new, nationwide survey.
Commissioned by global home appliance company LG Electronics, the survey captures how parents are engaging their children in the kitchen – considered the heart of the home – in order to help families discover new ways of saving time and using mealtime as an enjoyable and teachable experience.
More than 40 percent of parents state the most important reason they cook with their kids is to teach them an important life skill (42 percent), followed by spending quality time together (30 percent), which can be a significant challenge for busy families.
Summertime is a key period to get little sous chefs involved and excited about whipping up tasty treats and delectable dishes, with six in 10 (62 percent) parents engaging their children in cooking to help keep their minds sharp and occupied during summer months.
LG's Executive Chef Peter Thornhill added, "Cooking breakfast with my dad every Saturday shaped my childhood experience, and ultimately helped me choose a career path in the culinary arts. I was lucky enough to catch the cooking bug at an early age, but for those parents who may struggle to motivate their kids in the kitchen, there are so many simple and fun tasks that will give them the opportunity to see, feel and taste their creations and inspire them to continue to take an active role in the cooking process."
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By teaching kids how to help in the kitchen from meal prep to clean up, and allowing them increasing control over recipes, cooking methods and cleaning, parents are also helping them understand how to prepare healthy meals and appreciate food for years to come, said Chef Thornhill.
For your sous chefs in the making, parents indicate age eight, on average, is the appropriate age to start participating in meal preparation, according to the survey. And, the first activity they teach is setting the table, according to about one third (32 percent) of the parents surveyed, followed by retrieving ingredients from the refrigerator or pantry (20 percent). Once they teach those first activities in the kitchen, there is no holding back. Most parents engage children to help with various activities in the kitchen, including:
- Mixing dry ingredients (77 percent),
- Washing dishes or loading the dishwasher (73 percent), and
- Decorating cakes or cookies or peeling/washing vegetables and fruits (67 percent each)
To help parents ease their kids into the right kitchen activities at the right time, Chef Thornhill offers the following tips:
- From Grocery to Table. The survey shows that storing newly bought groceries is among the most popular kitchen activity for parents teaching children (86 percent). This simple task can also help your child learn new ingredients, like an exciting new vegetable, which will make them more likely to try (and like) new things, as well as identify colors and gain organizational skills.
- The Right Stuff. Ninety-seven percent of parents agree that keeping greens and healthy snacks in easily accessible areas of the refrigerator is an important part of teaching your child healthy eating habits. LG's super-capacity fridge with a built-in, magnetically sealed door-within-a-door compartment offers easy access to commonly used cooking ingredients and small, healthy snacks kids are able to retrieve themselves.
- More Pepper? Have your kids taste the food they're making and talk with them about alterations. This will encourage them to analyze the flavors they taste, but also recognize the value different ingredients bring to a dish. Just watch as your little rosemary-lover or garlic connoisseur blossoms.
- Party in the Kitchen! 63 percent of parents feel children as young as four can help in the kitchen, but you don't want to let meal preparation seem like a chore at such an early age. The more excited you are to cook with your kids, the more excited they will be, too. Turn on some music, have a giggle, and share tidbits about your day as you whip up something delicious.
- Clean Machine. Knowing time and amount of cleanup is among the top barriers for parents cooking with their kids, have them start with simple cleaning tasks like clearing the table and loading the dishwasher to emphasize the importance of cleanliness and kitchen upkeep. From there, parents can show kids how to tackle even the toughest tasks, from greasy pans to dirty ovens, in the most simple and efficient ways. For example, LG's new EasyClean™ ranges have a quick and easy cleanup for mess inside the oven – just spray water into the oven, press a button and wipe away any residual grime 20 minutes later – versus hours for typical self-cleaning oven modes.
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