In this blog, we’ve talked a lot about how cooking will improve your child’s life. It’s true, cooking classes can improve a child’s mental health, provide skills that help them live with developmental delays and disabilities, expand their palates, and give them ways of relating to others that will serve them well in adulthood. Cooking is great for kids.
But, when your kids learn to cook, it’s also great for the adults in the house. Read on to find out some of the ways that having a child in the kitchen improves parents’ lives.
1. Competent kids mean fewer fights.
One reason so many kids today struggle with anxiety and low self-esteem is because we don’t let them do anything real. We shuttle them from school to resume-building activities. They unwind with screens. They’re living in a bubble where they can’t contribute to the family.
Kids want to feel competent and useful. When they can’t, their mental health suffers, and that comes out in melt-downs, tantrums, and oppositional behavior.
Giving a kid real skills that help the family means fewer fights for you. A kid who can cook has a way to deal with family anxieties. He can head to the kitchen and contribute by whipping up something delicious, and then see how the food helps his parents feel better. The result is a happier kid who can process anxiety in a productive way, and fewer tantrums and meltdowns.
2. Lower your take-out bills.
How many of your take-out bills are a result of craving something you can’t cook at home? If you have a child who’s learned to cook a range of international cuisines, there’s less need for takeout. What about those nights that you don’t have time to cook? When more members of the family can whip up a great meal, there are fewer nights where no one has time.
Cooking classes result in huge savings. In a British study, cooking classes aimed at people with socio-economic disadvantages found that the classes reduced spending on takeout, prepared foods, and wasted food. Even if your family doesn’t need to live on a tight budget, the savings from cooking more can translate to more money for leisure activities and trips that bring your family closer together.
3. Waste less food.
As mentioned above, cooking classes for kids mean less food waste for the family. This can have an important environmental impact since wasted food is essentially ‘wasted carbon’ from transporting that food across the country. How do classes reduce food waste?
- Tastier meals and tastier leftovers mean that food is eaten instead of tossed.
- Expanded palates mean that kids eat their food instead of taking a bite and throwing it out.
- Better knife skills mean that more of each vegetable or cut of meat ends up in the meal.
- Learning different meals means that ‘waste products ’ get used. The carcass from that roast chicken becomes the base for a great soup.
One of the easiest ways to save the world is to waste less. Cooking classes help your child learn to eliminate waste.
4. Get fewer processed foods in your diet.
We all need to eat fewer meals from processed food. But it’s hard. Processed food is often fast and delicious, even if it takes a toll on our bodies. When your child starts cooking, you start eating more ‘real food.’ Within weeks, you, and the rest of the family, will start feeling healthier, have more energy, sleeping better, and thinking more clearly. A child cook in the house means a better life for everyone.
Having your child cook also means more control over ingredients. How much of that takeout that you eat is organic, low in salt, and free of preservatives. Probably less than you hope. (Most restaurant kitchens are chock-full of ‘hacks’ that involve preservatives added sugar). Your child can prepare healthy versions of your favorite foods that taste amazing because they’re how those recipes were meant to be cooked.
5. Eat more fruits, whole grains and veggies, and more variety.
Did you know that eating 30 or more different plant foods a week can improve your gut health, reduce inflammation, and leave you feeling better? These foods can come from:
- Fresh fruits and veggies
- Cooked veggies (such as roasted or in soups and stews)
- Herbs and spices
- Whole grains like wheat, corn, oats, buckwheat, and brown rice
- Beans and nuts
If you’re not cooking from scratch much, or if you rotate through the same 3 dishes, it can seem impossible to increase the plant variety in your diet. But adding a kid to the kitchen adds variety and makes it easier to hit the 30 plant goal for gut health.
6. Keep your nice kitchen tools nice.
We’ve all been there. We have a great new knife or pan. Someone untrained in the kitchen helpfully ‘cleans’ it for us, or uses it for the wrong task, and suddenly our lovely new tool is completely ruined. If you have kids in the house, you’ve probably found yourself thinking “Why should I bother getting any nice pans? They’ll just ruin them!”
When kids take cooking classes, they don’t just learn how to use kitchen tools properly. They also learn how to take care of them properly. When a kid learns to cook, you have a partner in the kitchen who can appreciate your good tools and who makes it worthwhile to add more.
7. You can finally enjoy food again.
Cooking for ungrateful family members, having to rush recipes, and constant interruptions mean that, for many parents, by the time they serve dinner, they no longer feel much like eating dinner or even being around people.
Having a child take over some of the cooking can help you rediscover the joy of family meals. At least a few nights a week, someone else will cook a meal and serve you, and you can focus on the great tastes and great company at your table. This, in turn, will relieve stress and help you be more mindful about food and its place in your life. It’s amazing how freeing it can be not to be the only cook in the family.
8. You finally have time for real leisure.
Our modern lives are so busy, and when you’re a working parent it feels like there’s never time to breathe. Instead, you end up ‘unwinding’ by binging on TV or doom scrolling on social media. Neither of these is real, restorative leisure, but after work, errands, carpool, dinner, and chores, it’s all your exhausted brain can manage.
Until your kid learns to cook. Then, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up after dinner becomes someone else’s responsibility at least a few nights a week. What will you do with all that extra time and brainpower? Read more? Finally pick up a paintbrush again? Some extra yoga? Whichever you choose, that extra time in the evening is the first step towards getting a handle on stress and overwhelm.
Cooking classes aren’t just fun and educational for your child. They can literally change your life as a parent. Are you ready to see what a difference they can make? Take a look at our current and upcoming course offerings!
If you’d like to learn how to cook with your child or teen at home, check out the virtual zoom cooking classes we offer in The Eatery. These one-time, a la carte classes are a fun way to get started with your kids so that cooking and dinner time become an engaging event in your home.