Elizabeth S. Reames | 9/14/2006 11:22:20 PM
Preparing their own food helps children develop an awareness of the importance of meals and snacks and promotes the development of a healthy self-concept, the LSU AgCenter nutritionist says.
An added benefit – using their hands to prepare foods helps develop muscle coordination. Reames recommends tailoring cooking activities to each child since no two children are the same developmentally.
The nutritionist also reminds parents that food safety practices are important for all age groups. She advises:
• Wash hands in hot, soapy water before beginning food preparation.
• Make sure work surfaces and utensils are clean before preparing food.
• Wash hands, utensils and counter surfaces after handling raw meat, poultry or fish and before preparing other food.
• Make sure perishable foods don’t stay at room temperature for more than two hours, including preparation time.
Reames offers some specific ideas on meal preparation for different age groups:
• 2 to 3 year-olds: wash fruits and vegetables; peel bananas; slice soft foods such as bananas and cooked potatoes or carrots; stir mixes or batters; pour small amounts of liquids into a bowl; mix with a rotary egg beater; measure items such as raisins, chocolate chips or nuts; remove cans from low cabinets.
• 4 to 5 year-olds: open packages, grease pans, peel carrots, help set the table, cut cookies with cookie cutter, tear lettuce for salad, place toppings on pizza or snacks.
• 6 to 8 year-olds: set table (with supervision); help plan meals and snacks, find ingredients in cabinet or refrigerator, shred cheese, garnish food, measure ingredients, roll and shape cookies, set food on the table.
• 9 to 12 year-olds: help plan and prepare entire meals or snacks with supervision.
Reames says helping plan and prepare meals can be fun for children of all ages, and their participation helps them develop an appreciation of good nutrition.
Additional information on this and other family and consumer topics is available by contacting an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office. Also, log on to the Family and Consumer Sciences section under the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service at the LSU AgCenter Web site: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/
Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3329, or firstname.lastname@example.org