This post was sponsored by the National 4-H Council as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
A few summers ago I began a fun tradition with my kids in order to help them build their confidence in the kitchen. At the beginning of the week, instead of creating menu and shopping list alone, I let them help me pick recipes to make together. Each kid is assigned an evening, and they prepare and cook their dish and sides. My youngest was only 4 when I began doing this. Admittedly, it hasn’t always been easy to figure out what recipes work well for each child’s age and capability, but we’ve never given up, even when it’s been challenging. The reaction from my 14 year old son last summer when he chose to make our turkey and potato soup and realized he had to peel and chop all the potatoes was priceless!
It’s now summer vacation, and we’ve already begun our weekly meals. The kids actually fought for who would get to go first this year. We write their menu on our chalkboard pantry door, so everyone knows what to expect.
Because they’ve taken the time to learn (even when they weren’t too happy about it), I’ve seen their confidence in the kitchen grow tremendously over the years. I had no doubts two years ago when my daughter left for college that she’d be able to cook for and feed herself.
Because cooking together and teaching them valuable life skills has become something I cherish doing with my kids, I want to help spread the word about a program with the same values I uphold in this area- the 4-H Food Smart Families Program.
The 4-H Food Smart Families teaches families how to plan for, shop, and even prepare meals for their families that are not only healthy but budget friendly. They teach that small budgets don’t mean unhealthy choices.
They have a program model called “Teens as Teachers” which engages more that 400 teens to be role models within their communities. They help their friends and families establish life-long healthy eating habits and cooking goals. This is exactly the concept that I want to instill in my own family when I teach them cooking skills here at home.
I’m a “show me the statistics” kind of girl, so this infographic from 4-H really put it all into perspective for me.
Over the years that the 4‑H Food Smart families program has been active, they’ve seen many positive changes in youth behavior as a result:
- 90% of youth participants now think being active is fun and good for fitness
- 89% now encourage their families to eat meals together
- 87% said their families have purchased healthier foods
- 86% now eat fruit for a snack over unhealthier options
Unfortunately, I didn’t grow up cooking in the kitchen along side my mom, and so I definitely didn’t have much confidence when it came to cooking. My mom creates some fantastic recipes, a few of which I’ve shared here, but the kitchen is definitely “her domain”. So, when I got married and began our family, my kitchen skills hardly consisted of much more than making cereal and eggs. It wasn’t ever because my mom didn’t want to teach me, but she’s very much a “little of this and that, a pinch here and there” chef, and so she wasn’t fully confident that she could show me specifics. She taught herself, and knew I could eventually do the same thing.
I don’t want my kids to face the same challenges I did as an adult, I having little skill at planning and cooking healthy. A program like the 4‑H Food Smart families would have been extremely valuable to me, how about you?
Do you also find value in teaching youth at a critical age for learning skills in the kitchen?
How do you feel that healthy kitchen habits now can shape a future family or community?
If you’d like more info on the National 4-H Council’s Food Smart Families program and its “Teens as Teachers” model, you can find them on these social sites-