In our fast-paced world we have quick, easy food options jockeying to take our orders, lighten our load, take the task of cooking off our plates. But whether you’re cooking from scratch or plating a ready-made meal, getting kids involved in getting food ready is a great way to add food learning and exploration into daily routines that are already happening!
Anything you do to prepare or serve food can count as food prep. Opening a box of crackers? Food prep. Peeling open a string cheese wrapper? Food prep. Putting salad ingredients together in a bowl? Food prep. You get the idea. Cooking also includes a lot of food prep, but there is food being touched or interacted with in some way to get food on a plate at every meal, even if you’re not cooking the whole meal, and that can be really valuable teaching time.
The interactions we have with food while we’re getting it ready teach us a lot about it. We can learn a food’s temperature, if it’s wet or dry, hard or mushy, if it drips or pours, if it’s crumbly or sticky. We can learn a lot of these things by looking at the food and we learn even more if we touch it.
We often get foods all ready for kids on their plates and then ask them to eat, but involving them in the prep steps can help them know more about the food on their plates and be more ready to eat it when they sit down.
So, instead of a separate food play activity today (though you’re always welcome to choose one from the Activities pull-down menu on the right), I encourage you to think about the 5-10 minutes before a meal or snack. Could your child help you get crackers out of the bag? Could they use a spoon and get some peanut butter out of the jar? How could they participate in getting a meal or snack ready even if you’re not cooking a whole meal?
I hope you enjoy this fresh look at your routines! Happy food prep and play!