More people are looking for productive and comforting ways to pass the time at home during the COVID-19 outbreak. As health and government officials urge individuals to stay indoors, we can see the resurgence of cooking and baking to keep ourselves busy and to learn valuable life skills.
Chef Pati JInich, host of the PBS series “Pati’s Mexican Tables” and author of cookbooks “Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking” and “Mexican Today: New and Rediscovered Recipes for Contemporary Kitchens," said cooking helps nurture yourself, learn things, stay active. Cooking is also a therapeutic activity because following a recipe jumpstarts your brain to work. This helps you focus on that instead of worrying about other things, she noted.
Statistics On Family Cooking Activities
The Kitchen Confidence Survey—conducted by food brand Uncle Ben’s—found that 73% of parents in Canada agreed that it is very important for their child or children to know how to cook or bake, cited Constance Brown-Riggs of HuffPost, an American news and opinion website. Likewise, 68% of parents in the US and 66% of those in the UK agreed that it is very important for their kids to learn how to cook or bake.
The research involved over 4,000 parents of children below 18 in the aforementioned countries about their family’s cooking skills and traditions. However, 36% of parents in Canada cook with their kids each week (versus 25% of parents in the UK and 33% of those in the US). Moreover, 68% of parents in the UK said they cook with their children every month or less, compared to 47% and 46% of those in the US and Canada, respectively.
When asked about the barriers to cooking with their families, 44% of parents in Canada said, “if I had more time” (versus 41% of UK parents and 38% of US parents). 26% of parents in Canada also cited “if my child/children were older” (versus 20% and 22%) and “if it was less messy” (versus 24% and 28%).
23% of those in Canada believed that if their child/children were more interested, they would be able to cook or bake with them more often (versus 25% and 31%). 16% of parents in Canada said they would cook or bake with their kids more if they were a better cook (versus 18% and 17%).
When asked about the benefits of cooking with their kids, 82% of UK parents believed that it is an important life skill (versus 75% of US parents and 71% of parents in Canada). 75% of US parents said cooking is beneficial to spending family time (versus 74% of parents in the UK and Canada). 68% of US parents also believed that cooking helps their children learn how to follow directions (versus 61% of parents and 58% of UK parents).
In another survey commissioned by global home appliance innovator LG Electronics, 32% of parents said the first activity they teach is setting the table, 20% taught their kids how to get ingredients from the refrigerator or pantry, cited by PR NewsWire, a press release distribution platform.
Most parents engage their kids to help out in the kitchen by mixing dry ingredients (77%), washing dishes or loading the dishwasher (73%), and decorating cakes or cookies or peeling/washing vegetables and fruits (67%).
Parents Express Concern On What They Need to Feed Their Child
Megan McNamee, a registered dietician nutritionist, and occupational therapist specialized in feeding/picky eating Judy Delaware, answered questions about eating meals amid the COVID-19 outbreak, reported Jenna Zibton of television station WSLS. McNamee said parents are worried about what to feed to their children at home for an extended period of time. It could be because families don’t have much access to food because the products in stock are limited or some other factor.
Your child will have to eat differently during the outbreak. What should parents do? You should work with what you have. For example, you can get essential vitamins and minerals from frozen vegetables as they are harvested immediately when they are ripe.
Getting the Kids Involved In Preparing Meals
McNamee recommended getting your child involved in meal preparations. You can use staple ingredients such as black beans, pinto beans, or chickpeas to prepare your meals, cooking and repurposing them in their most basic form, Jinich suggested. “Like one day you eat them cooked, the next day you puree a little bit for soup, the next day you make a warm salad, etc.”
You can also involve your child in taste testing to help them learn to taste more interesting food as they get older, Delaware noted. Consider asking your child, “Tell me what it tastes like. Is it sweet or salty? Is it kind of bitter or sour?” Avoid questions such as “Do you like it or do you not like it?”
You can teach them some cooking and baking basics to help them foster a greater appreciation of the culinary arts. Nutritionist and founder of Tiny Turnips Kitchen Andrea Kapner said this will also make your kids less picky eaters. She stated, “The more you have your kids involved in the cooking process, the more likely they’re going to be to try new foods.”
Consider trying out new recipes you have always wanted to try. Jinich advised, “Tackle those projects that you’ve been afraid to try because you haven’t had the time, like baking or making bread.”
An Opportunity for Family Meal Times
Eat the meal you made with your child, show them how you eat it, and set a good example, Delaware said. McNamee agreed, adding that parents should focus on having family meals, getting kids involved in the kitchen, and making them understand where their food originates— regardless if it comes from a can.
Use family meal times to connect with your child and to make them feel safe and thankful that they have enough food, Delaware said. How about increased snacking among children? Ask yourself these questions: Do they snack because their meals are not filling? Ensure that the meals and snacks are infused with plenty of fat and protein. For example, you can put peanut butter on the bread to help regulate your child’s appetite and blood sugar.
Not all days are going to be perfect. There will be days when you and your child will snack more often, ruining your appetites in some way. But try to make it a goal to provide three meals and two to three snacks each day to regulate you and your child’s appetites.
Feeding your kids will be a challenge since not all of their favorite foods will be available in grocery stores. Use what you have and try to whip up something new to keep mealtimes interesting. You can have your kids help in the kitchen, enabling them to learn new things and taste new food.