Cooking with Kids: Make Dinner Time Your Family Destination

The thought of having your kids help you cook dinner might make you dizzy. The mess! The chaos! But teaching kids to love cooking doesn't have to be a disaster. On the contrary, it helps empower children while helping them learn to love new foods. A recent study by the University of Alberta showed that kids who help prepare meals make healthier food choices. An added benefit? It could help make your dinner hour more civilized. Easy Does It host Ereka Vetrini talks to Melissa Lanz of The Fresh 20 and learns how cooking dinner together as family can become the best part of the day.

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Lanz's idea for The Fresh 20 spawned from the realization that she needed to teach her children, now 6 and 7 years old, how to eat a family. The company is a meal planning service that uses unprocessed ingredients to cook weeknight dinners for families. Says Lanz: "When they were really young, I wanted to be that mom that was super healthy and fed them great food, but I was working 60 hours a week." But mom and dad? Not so much. Lanz admits she and her husband would eat poorly in front of the children.

"The 'ah-ah' moment was sitting in my kitchen and realizing they are going to grow and see my husband and I eating frozen burritos or chips and that's going to contribute to their family food culture. I have to make these things come together so that we are all eating healthy."

Lanz learned that it's never to early to get your kids to help out in the kitchen. She includes her whole family in the preparation and cooking of supper. "That's our family activity at the end of the day. Dinner is our destination."

Related: Do family dinners help really reduce teen drug use?

Looking for simple ways to get your gets excited about being a mini chef? Lanz offers some tips:

-Give your children a single responsibility. They can tear up the lettuce, measure ingredients, or do some simple chopping. Give them a task to to own in the kitchen.

-Teach them how to maneuver in the kitchen. Lanz says that children as young as four or five years old can peel vegetable or fruits on their own. Give them children's cutting tools that are sharp enough to cut food but won't harm their skin. Kids can have their own measuring cups and utensils. You can even give them a special apron.

-Create a competition like a "dressing off" where each family member can create their own salad dressing or dips. "It's like a science project," says Lanz.

-Let them come up with their own recipes. Lanz's own son created a salad of brown rice, strawberries and mint.

Do your kids love to help out in the kitchen?

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8 ways family dinners can save your family

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