Do you find it hard to get your teens cooking? Are they just not interested in meal preparation? Follow these simple tips to get your teens involved in planning and preparing healthy meals and snacks. Not only will you help them develop food skills, but you will be helping them develop healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.
1. Get the conversation going
Talking about food with your teens is a great way to encourage interest in cooking and healthy eating. Guide them about healthy eating while respecting their views on food and eating. Watch cooking shows or read cookbooks together to get motivated. Check out our video series too!
2. Make a meal plan together
Healthy eating starts with a good plan. Ask your teens what they want for breakfast, lunch and dinner this week and work on a grocery list together. Try to add foods from all the 4 food groups from Canada’s Food Guide. If you can, have your teens come along when you grocery shop to help you check off items on your list. Ask your teens to read ingredient lists and food labels on packaged foods to help choose healthier options. Download EatRight Ontario’s blank one-week menu planning guide to help you get started.
3. Put your teen in charge
Let your teen decide the menu for dinner and let them prepare and cook it themselves. Try to avoid jumping in and taking over! Guide them instead. Here are some recipe suggestions.
4. Sit down together for dinner
Continue the conversation by eating the meals you prepare together. This is a great time for your teens to plan for the next meal they will prepare.
5. Let your teens decide how much to eat
Trust your teens’ feelings of hunger and being full. Keep healthy foods like low fat yogurt and whole grain cereals on hand for a satisfying evening snack. This will encourage a healthy relationship with food.
6. Let your teens decide on their favourite snacks
Keep their favourite nutritious snacks at home like low fat cheese and whole wheat crackers, baby carrots and hummus or peanut butter and celery. Encourage them to pre-make healthy snacks and keep them in the fridge. Limit unhealthy choices like chips, but don’t ban it. It’s ok once and a while.
7. Have your teen pack leftovers for lunch
Encourage your teens to prepare foods roasted vegetables, curries, casseroles, or a stir fry and pack them for lunch the next day.
8. Talk about what foods to offer when friends visit
Discuss what foods are healthier options to have when friends are over. This gives teens the responsibility of making food decisions for themselves and their friends. Let your teens get creative with snacks like popping fresh popcorn and adding spices like chili pepper, cumin or cinnamon.
9. Be a role model
Remember, your kids are watching. Let your kids learn from your healthy food decisions. They are more likely to make healthy choices when it is part of your family routine.
10. Make it fun!
If you feel that preparing food is a chore, so will your kids. Add a theme to dinner (like Mexican night, sushi night or vegetarian night), listen to music or use candles to make eating special.
Last Update – October 9, 2016