“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
– Maya Angelou

I’ll be blunt about this – there are few things as pathetic as a person who can’t cook for themselves. In college, it was obvious who had spent any time at all in the kitchen and who had mommy and daddy spoon-feeding them every meal. Save your children from this embarrassment and cook with your kids!

By getting your child involved in the kitchen now you will teach them healthy skills that will improve their life forever, expand their menu beyond microwavable dinners and pasta, and maybe even secure some home-cooked meals for you in the future. (one can only dream)

4 tips to cook with your kids:

1. Start them young!
Even a two-year-old can help by washing your fruits and vegetables. Get them a stool, set up your colander in the sink, and let them clean the produce. By the time they are three you can graduate them to kneading dough and by five they will be using measuring cups

2. Let them be creative.
The best way to learn the fundamental do’s and don’ts with flavors and ingredients is through trial and error. So, as long as your kids’ suggestion isn’t flat out dangerous, let them add jam to their pizza or cheese to their muffin. They will learn quickly what doesn’t work and may even discover new things they like.

3. Make it a learning opportunity.
Let your kid know about the energy they get from vegetables and the muscles they get from protein. Building good connections and positive ideas with healthy foods early on is pivotal in how they view food as they grow up.

4. Let them show you the ropes.
There are many age-appropriate children’s cookbooks to give to your kid. If your child is showing an interest in helping out with dinner, this is a great way to take it to the next level. Help them correctly read recipes and catch details, but make an event of them being the one in charge in the kitchen while showing you how it’s done.

Mindset is important – you have to set realistic expectations for what your children will want to do and how long they will stay engaged. If you approach this right it will be one of the most impactful values and skills you can give them. Getting them familiar with shopping, improving their relationship with food, and spending quality time as a family are all worthwhile reasons to give this an honest shot.

At the very least, one day he will be the more capable one of his roommates and it may even help him impress a girl you would approve of, one that appreciates a good home-cooked meal.