New Year’s Resolution: Cooking as a Family in 2019!

New Year’s ... A new year, a blank slate, and great opportunity to start fresh! So why not make a Family New Year’s Resolution this year to get everyone in the kitchen to help with meal preparation? We want to help you make cooking a more prevalent activity for your family this year. We recognize that meal times can be hectic and, for some, the thought of getting your children in the kitchen with you seems impossible, but we are confident if you follow our TIPS and incorporate some or all of these suggestions throughout the year, you will see some fabulous changes in no time. Start small and introduce this concept to your kids so that they can get in the habit of being involved in the kitchen.


1. Communicate! Sit down as a family and discuss this New Year’s Resolution. Getting your children onside with the plan is key to success! You can share your experiences with your children and how you require their help. When we give children responsibility, they will, more often than not, rise to the occasion and want to help out. Discuss the concept that, as a family, everyone must contribute. When we work together, we can accomplish much more and use the time that we are together to build stronger relationships.

2. Meal plan as a family. Get your children involved in the selection of meal items. This not only helps with getting your kids to eat their food, but also builds excitement and encourages their involvement and interest in cooking. For example, sit down with kids and look at recipes online or in a cookbook then jot down the ingredients for your shopping list. Take them shopping to teach them how to pick out the produce and perhaps even speed up the shopping experience!

3. Include your children in the cooking process and create a Duty Wheel. Spend time together in the kitchen and prepare the ingredients by assigning kid-friendly duties. There are many low risk cooking activities for all ages. Create a wheel with all family members listed then jot down all the kitchen duties; turn the wheel daily or weekly so that everyone is responsible for a different activity everyday. For example:

• Prep work: measure, stir, pour, peel.
• Set table and pour water glasses: a task for little ones that gets them involved in the family meal.
• Clear table and load / unload dishwasher: children learn that cleaning is part of the cooking process.
• Pack up leftovers and pack lunches.

4. Instate the “Cook or Clean” rule. Another great option is to ask your children which duties they would like to choose from and that way they can feel involved and responsible for a part of the meal preparation process. If you cook, then you don’t clean and vice versa.

5. Encourage discussion over the dinner table. Sitting together and eating as a family is a great time to talk about the food you are eating. What do you like? What don’t you like? And talk about the ingredients and seasonings. This dialogue not only helps your children develop a greater understanding of food and cooking, but by sharing positive feedback and perspectives of the meal, picker eaters may want to join in both the discussion and the consumption of the meal. 

Making changes is not an easy task, however, there are so many benefits when you get your kids helping in the kitchen. We are confident that this change will not only bring your family together, but teach your children valuable skills, such as responsibility and independence, and it will take a bit of a load off you parents too!

About Chef Shai Mandel: Inspired by her passion for food and education, chef and teacher Shai Mandel founded Rooks to Cooks with the goal of teaching kids cooking, life skills, and important lessons they can use both in and out of the kitchen. Chef Mandel's student-centered workshops emphasize empowerment, healthy eating, and fun. Rooks to Cooks Summer Cooking Day Camps are conveniently located at multiple locations in Toronto and the GTA. There are many sessions to choose from, for kids ages 4 and up. Rooks to Cooks is your child's Recipe for Success! Find out more at

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