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5 secret tips to get your kids interested in cooking from the TV dietitian Lucy Jones

Mirror logo Mirror 14/06/2018 Lucy Jones
a child posing for the camera: Lucy enjoys cooking with her kids © Lucy Jones Lucy enjoys cooking with her kids

Family dinner times are so important.

Time spent cooking together in the kitchen and then sharing the food you've prepared round the dinner table has a proven track record of improving emotional wellbeing, family bonding and developing healthy eating habits that stay with us through life.

Lucy Jones is a dietitian who has appeared on TV and says: “We all know how crucial it is for our children to have a varied and balanced diet, however we are often too familiar with the daily struggles of not only having a tech-free dinner but to encourage children to eat more vegetables.

“Research reveals that by introducing them to the stages that they necessarily wouldn’t be involved with and letting them choose what to eat for dinner gives children a sense of autonomy and as a result are more open to trying new things.

"Children may need to try new foods many times before they grow to like them to providing opportunity to do this is crucial in building a healthy palate.

“That said, this can only be successful if there are perimeters to work within and not allowing them to reach for the pizza, burger option.

"Giving them a choice of healthy ingredients and offering different ways in which they can be cooked enables them to think different and act within those limits.”

Here are her Lucy's top tips on how to get your kids interested in cooking:

  a woman smiling for the camera: Lucy Jones is working with Uncle Ben's © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Lucy Jones is working with Uncle Ben's

1) Work together

Lots of families already recognise the role of family meals and have developed their own ways of making them work by giving children the choice - like doing the week’s meal plan together which means you get everyone’s buy in for meals that they all will enjoy.

Take the plunge and let them choose what the family is going to have for dinner.

a group of people sitting at a table eating food: Eating and cooking together needn't be a nightmare © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Eating and cooking together needn't be a nightmare


I know it might sound like a risky recipe but believe me, I know from my own family experience, it really helps them to understand the importance of balanced nutritious menus. And its loads of fun!

The key is giving choice within limits rather than free reign - three different meal ideas that they can choose and switch certain ingredients to make it interesting and enjoyable. Allowing them to choose doesn't mean fast food.

2) Gamify the food shop

Set challenges in the supermarket of finding a specific herb, comparing prices for an ingredient like pasta or even finding a food they have never seen or heard of before.

a woman smiling for the camera: Helping kids cook is important says Lucy © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Helping kids cook is important says Lucy

3) Let them become chefs

Don’t be afraid to let them be involved. Obviously, safety is paramount in the kitchen but with appropriate supervision, children can do far more than we think. My 6-year-old loves cracking eggs, helping me chop vegetables (children’s safety knives are worth the investment), weighing out ingredients and setting the table too.

a group of people preparing food in a kitchen: Getting kids involved in cooking shouldn't be hard © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Getting kids involved in cooking shouldn't be hard

4) Preparation

If you know time is tight in the evening, set the alarm 15 minutes early and do some prep in the morning to help.

Children are often at their best in the morning and this can be a great time to capture their energy and attention. Using a slow cooker is a great option here which can be put on in the morning and is ready for them to reveal after school.

a group of people sitting at a table: A family baking in kitchen might not be a dream © Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited A family baking in kitchen might not be a dream

5) Talk about what's on the plate

Help children understand healthy portions and plates by helping to serve.

Help them visualise splitting the plate into thirds for proteins, slow release carbohydrates such as rice and vegetables / salad.

Another option to help them try new things is to serve on sharing platters and allow them to serve up small amounts of everything from the table.

Even if they don't eat it, getting in on the table and on their plates is all part of repeated exposure which can help to increase the chances of them eating it next time.

Related: Guilty as Charged! 10 Bad Habits Every Parent Should Surrender (Provided by POPSUGAR)

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