Some children are excited about trying new foods, some can be suspicious, and will wait for someone else to taste first, and others are “picky” and stick with what they know and like best.
Whichever kind of children you have at home or in your classroom, they have an opinion, so inviting them into the kitchen and taking their thoughts and preferences into consideration is important. It’s so easy to make assumptions and stick with what we know they will eat, but we do want them to make educated and experienced decisions, so we should expose them. We should let them base their food choices and decisions on real food experience. Research shows that repeated exposure to new foods increases the likelihood that they will try and like a new food. In our house, we always say “they don’t like it….today”. Children’s food preferences change over time, so be patient, offer foods that you know they didn’t like the day before, and respect their opinion if they try something and say they don’t like it.
If they cook it, will they really eat it? Not in all cases, but if they cook it, they will smell it, they will touch it, they will get familiar with it, they will know it better. The process in some cases is so important, that if the end product is not to their liking, it’s totally acceptable. Maybe they understood why they do or do not like lasagna; maybe they will figure out how they like zucchini to be cooked; maybe they’ll understand that they like to eat carrots raw, or perhaps they like the cucumbers cut in a certain way. Maybe they will learn the joy of cooking for other people. Our children don’t need to eat everything, but we can try and help them get to know a variety of foods.
So invite them into the kitchen, use them to help pick a menu, take them grocery shopping or offer them to browse through cookbooks. Children young and old can be involved, whether it is finding the ingredients in the kitchen, kneading dough or cracking eggs. Let them play an active role.