Have a Cook-Off With Your Kid

One way to get your kiddos to eat healthier foods is to involve them in a cook-off or Iron Chef competition. It’s a sure-fired way to get them to eat their veggies.

How It All Began

This idea emerged when Luke, my 11-year-old son, told me he wanted to make his own soup – no recipe allowed. Since I was a bit concerned we’d have a inedible meal, I wagered a little bet on who could make the best soup. A little competition made it fun for everyone, and it also made for great rainy day entertainment when his Nanna was in town.

Here are four easy steps to create your own cook-off.

Step 1: Shop Together

Involve your child in the grocery shopping. Have him make a list of ingredients, then let him get his own cart and pick out his own ingredients. I offered to be a sounding board if Luke had questions while at the market, and I also provided a final check to make sure he wasn’t omitting something obvious. The rest was up to him.

Step 2: Prep

Luke was surprised at how long it took to prep the meal, saying to me, “Mom, this part is hard!” I told him that prepping is generally more difficult and time-consuming than cooking, but a necessary part of the process. In fact, we sang Dana Carvey’s “Chopping Broccoli” song no less than twenty times to add laughter to the chopping process.

Since he prepared vegetable soup, he was fast at work to prep a range of vegetables. Though I provided few pointers on safe chopping, he laughed because I am notoriously uncoordinated with knives. He also reminded me, “Mom, if I cut my finger, I will get my own Band-Aid.” (How comforting….)

Step 3: Cook

Though Luke knew to use broth as the base for his soup, he had no idea how to flavor it. I tried to convince him that onion was a great flavoring agent, but he refused to add any to his dish.  I suggested salt, pepper and a bay leaf as a starting point for learning. He had purchased some fresh basil at the store but preferred to use it as a garnish.

After adding all the the veggies to the broth, he let the soup simmer for about 45 minutes. (I prepared French onion soup and did the same.)

Step 4: Taste

Nanna and Luke were the official taste testers, wearing blind folds as Luke had suggested.

The winner was?

It was a tie! And a lot of fun, too.

Another helpful hint

If you are fearful of two really bad meals (I didn’t use a recipe either), I recommend making some hearty and tasty appetizers. Luke made guacamole and I prepared caprese salad.

Melinda Hinson