Involving your kids in meal planning and preparation teaches them more than you might imagine!

Involving your kids in meal planning and preparation teaches them more than you might imagine!

10 Reasons to have your kids help plan and prepare meals 

When kids are actively involved in planning and preparing meals, they learn about nutrition, but also develop a sense of responsibility and self-sufficiency. Plus, this fun time in the kitchen can foster healthier eating habits, strengthen family bonds, and provide valuable life skills.

1. Encouraging healthy eating habits:

When kids take part in meal planning, they become more aware of what they eat and the nutritional value of different foods. Parents can engage children in discussions about balanced diets, explaining the importance of incorporating fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains into their meals. This knowledge and your positive example as a role model empower kids to make healthier food choices, even when they are away from home.

2. Expanding food preferences:

Involving kids in meal preparation exposes them to a variety of foods and cooking techniques. They are more likely to try new foods when they have a hand in making them. This can help broaden their palate and reduce picky eating habits. Encouraging experimentation with different flavors and cuisines can make mealtimes more exciting.

3. Promoting independence and responsibility:

Meal planning and preparation require organization and responsibility. When kids actively participate, they learn valuable life skills such as meal planning, grocery shopping, and time/budget management. They also develop a sense of independence and self-sufficiency, which can boost their confidence and prepare them for adulthood.

4. Quality family time:

Cooking together as a family can be a fun and bonding experience. It provides an opportunity for quality family time, where everyone can collaborate, share stories, and enjoy each other's company. These shared experiences can create lasting memories and strengthen family relationships.

5. Developing math and science Skills:

Meal planning and cooking involve practical applications of math and science. Kids can learn about measurements, fractions, and temperature control while preparing meals. They can also observe chemical reactions during cooking processes, vitamins and minerals enhancing their understanding of science and health concepts.

6. Building decision-making skills:

When kids participate in meal planning, they have to make decisions about what to eat based on nutritional guidelines, dietary restrictions, and personal preferences. This helps them develop decision-making skills and the ability to consider the consequences of their choices. You can use our tool (What's in your food and how much do you need?) to show them the benefits of the foods they want.

7. Teaching food safety:

Meal preparation is an excellent opportunity to teach kids about food safety practices. Parents can explain the importance of washing hands, handling raw meat and eggs safely, and cooking food to the right temperature to prevent foodborne illnesses. These lessons instill good food hygiene habits.

8. Reducing food waste:

Involving kids in meal planning can help reduce food waste. When they are part of the process, they may have a better understanding of portion sizes and how to use leftovers creatively. This not only saves money but also promotes environmental sustainability.

9. Encouraging creativity:

Cooking is a creative endeavor, and involving kids can unleash their culinary creativity. They can experiment with ingredients, flavors, and presentation, which can be both fun and educational. Encouraging creativity in the kitchen can foster a lifelong love for cooking.

10. Fostering a sense of ownership:

When kids contribute to meal planning and preparation, they feel a sense of ownership over their food choices. This can lead to a greater appreciation for the effort that goes into preparing meals and a decreased reliance on fast food or pre-packaged options.


Involving kids in meal planning and preparation is a valuable investment in their health, education, and personal development. It empowers them with essential life skills, promotes healthier eating habits, and strengthens family bonds. Furthermore, it encourages creativity, fosters independence, and reduces food waste. As parents and caregivers, we should seize the opportunity to involve children in the kitchen, making it a space for learning, bonding, and exploration. Ultimately, teaching kids to plan and prepare meals equips them with skills that will serve them well throughout their lives, ensuring they can make informed and nutritious food choices.

Sources and resources


Mayo Clinic


Food Safety and storage

Role model

Nutrtion4Kids video series on grocery shopping