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Kitchen Curiosity

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Cooking as a way to instill good habits

Little ones love to stay busy and if you’re a parent, then you know that children love to get involved with whatever YOU are doing.  From dusting to washing dishes or even sharing your meal, if you’re doing it, then your toddler wants in on the action. 

Why not take advantage of their enthusiasm to build better family cooking habits? Cooking with children helps them build confidence and lays the critical foundation for healthy eating as they grow.  Research also shows that cooking meals at home results in eating fewer calories, and negative nutrients like saturated fat and sugar – even when you’re not trying to lose weight! 

Here are five tips for cooking-up healthy habits in the kitchen:

  1. Dress for the part!  Pull out the aprons and get everyone in costume.  If you really want to be official, check out our printable chef’s hat. Children will love to personalize their own before getting busy in the kitchen! 
  2. Give them a seat at the table (literally)!  Instead of sitting little helpers on the counter, get them a step stool so they can see the counter – most importantly, what’s in that big bowl – or sit them in a booster seat at the table so they can help measure and mix. This keeps them interested and safe. And remember to always wash hands before getting started! 
  3. Mise en place!  This is French for “everything in its place.” Set out your ingredients on the counter in pre-measured amounts that match the recipe. Maybe your child can help measure dry beans or flour? Or pull items out of the pantry? To hold little ones’ attention, start following the recipe directions only after everything is prepped. 
  4. Prepare for spills!  Have your kitchen towel handy and put a garbage bowl on the counter to help clean along the way. It’s always easier to stay on track with recipes when you have a clean workspace.
  5. Set a fun table!  The best part of cooking is eating! While dishes simmer or bake away, have children set the table. If they’re too little to handle carrying your fine dishware, use paper!  And don’t forget the placemats. Our Dole placemat will keep the kiddo’s coloring until their dinner is ready to eat. And older kids might enjoy personalizing our downloadable menus and recipe cards to turn your kitchen into a French café.

Not sure which recipes to choose?  Why not try a recipe that ties into a favorite movie?  At Dole we’re crushing on Marvel with character-inspired recipes like our Black Widow Chocolate Bites and Spidey Spicy Tacos!!  To download new recipes and other fun resources, visit us at 

Bonus:  Kids are more likely to try foods that they help prepare in the kitchen!  Take advantage of that opportunity to make foods that include fruits and vegetables :) 


Published April 1, 2022

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