Science Daily reports that a study from the University of Alberta “suggests the best way to get your child to eat healthier foods — and actually enjoy them — is to have them help with meal preparation.”


Fifth grade students from 151 schools were surveyed, and here is some of the information that was discovered.


  • About 1/3 of students helped with meal preparation at least once a day.
  • Another 1/3 said they helped with meal preparation three times a week.
  • One quarter of the children said they helped with meal preparation once a month.
  • A little over 12 percent said they never helped with meal preparation.

Most students said they preferred fruit over vegetables, but those who frequently helped prepare meals preferred vegetables about 10 percent more than those who didn’t help in the kitchen. Also, kids who helped prepare meals “were more confident about the importance of making healthier food choices.”


Those of us who have our kids helping in the kitchen frequently won’t be surprised by the findings in the study. When our children are involved in meal preparation, they ask questions and learn about the foods they’re making. It’s only natural.


If you want your kids to be even more interested in eating fruits and vegetables, have them grow them and then help prepare them. Studies show that kids who grow vegetables are much more likely to eat what they grow. I learned this first hand when my one son was six, and we made pesto from the basil and parsley in our garden. He had never wanted to touch it before because it looks a little gross, but once he grew the herbs himself, ripped them out of the ground, got to push the buttons on the food processor and poured the pesto on his favorite pasta, he couldn’t wait to eat it.


As I write this, I can hear both of my boys in the kitchen cleaning up from the breakfast they made themselves. They made scrambled eggs, home fries and waffles and ate some fruit with their feast. They did yell a few questions to me while I was in my office as they cooked, and I yelled the answers back to them. But, at 10 and almost 13, they’re very confident cooks.


Summer is the perfect time to get kids in the kitchen. If you haven’t grown a garden, take them to the farmers market and let them pick out the produce that they want to eat. Help them find recipes for that produce, and spend some time cooking together in the kitchen. As they get more comfortable in the kitchen, their eating habits will likely improve. 


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Cooking kids choose healthier foods
A new study shows that getting kids helping out in the kitchen is one of the best ways to get them interested in healthier foods.