Kitch’N Giggles offers meal kits specifically geared towards families with preschool-aged children. Founder Yael Friedman, a former pastry chef, decided once she had her third child to go back to school and got a Masters in Nutrition Education. After learning about the importance of getting kids involved in cooking at a young age, Yael focused on helping families involve children, particularly younger children, in cooking and preparing meals.
Thus, Kitch’N Giggles was born to help parents with an easy way to get their kids involved in preparing delicious, nutritious meals. Both Kids Cook Monday and Kitch’N Giggles are all about making it easy for parents to get their children involved in meal preparation.
We spoke with Yael and asked her to share some tips and thoughts on how to get younger children involved in cooking, her inspiration for Kitch’N Giggles, and how to use Monday as a day to get on a healthier track.
1. What inspired you to start Kitch’N Giggles?
I started my career as a pastry chef. I got hooked on the fast pace of the restaurant world. Restaurants are hectic and loud, sort of like life with young kids. After I had my third child, I decided that working in a restaurant was taking me away from my young family, so I went back to school and got my Master’s degree in Nutrition Education. In many of my classes, one idea came up over and over again: building healthy habits in children is easier than changing poor habits in adults, and the research points to getting them involved.
As a parent myself, I was wary of getting my kids involved. They are slow and messy, two things that I can’t handle after spending so much time working in efficient and professional kitchens. So I began thinking about how to get them involved, and empower them, while making it as efficient and clean for myself. My goals were to have preschool aged children take on an active role, so they are in charge, rather than “helping.” And of course, I wanted everything to be healthy and fresh, using whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and no added sugars.
With these guidelines, I began to work on a meal kit for kids. I illustrated every recipe, because I want kids to be empowered and not have to keep asking “what’s next?” Finally, I encourage kids to start learning important skills, like salting to taste and knife skills. Both of those help build confidence in your cooking and in yourself.
2. Why is it important for children to be involved in cooking and preparing food?
There are so many benefits to getting kids involved in cooking!
First, there’s the simple fact that getting them involved is one of the best ways to introduce them to new foods. Cooking allows kids to explore foods without any pressure. When you get green beans on your plate, they’re really only there to be eaten. And for some kids, that’s a stressful situation. But when you have green beans to mix in a bowl, there’s no expectation. It’s a tactile way to introduce kids to foods and help them become comfortable trying new healthy foods.
A second benefit is that cooking is a crucial skill. When people are able to cook for themselves, they can take control over everything they eat. When you are comfortable cooking, you’re not limited to processed ingredients. Being able to cook means that you don’t need to rely on convenience foods, like bottled salad dressing, or jarred pasta sauce. People who cook at home tend to have healthier diets.
Finally, getting kids involved in cooking is a great way to spend quality time together. It opens a time and space for parents and children to connect. It’s something that families can do together and then immediately reap the rewards. It makes dinner time less of a chore for parents and transforms it into family time. There are numerous studies that show the benefit of eating family meals.
3. How can younger, preschool age children help with meal preparation?
Young kids can be very helpful with meal prep. They love working with their hands, being close to their parents and exploring the tools and ingredients in the kitchen. There are many ways to incorporate their natural curiosity and to help them work on their fine motor skills, language skills, and start to introduce counting and reading. Young children are able to mix and pour. Kids as young as four can start practicing their knife skills by safely cutting soft fruits and vegetables, like avocado or strawberries.
Meal preparation isn’t limited to cooking. Kids can help out by going to the grocery store and selecting produce. They can look at pictures in a cookbook and pick out recipes they’d like to try. They can help out by rinsing fruits and vegetables, or spreading peanut butter on bread. They can even do something as simple as put fruit in a fruit basket, or bring water to the table.
The more active and engaged the kids are, the more likely they are to actually eat the food they prepared. It also helps build their confidence in the kitchen, which leads to a lifetime of healthy habits.
4. Why is Monday a good day to cook and eat meals together?
Every day is a good day to cook and eat together! Mondays are especially good because they’re the first day of the week, and young children (and also adults) don’t have a lot of patience. If your family can set aside time on Sunday to shop and prep, then you can roll that motivation into cooking on Monday. Once you start cooking on Monday, you proven to yourself that you can do it, which is such a great feeling of accomplishment. Now you’ve started your week off with a huge success and it encourages you to continue cooking and eating together throughout the rest of the week.
5. How can families make time in their busy schedules to prepare and eat meals together?
The best thing to do is plan in advance. You need to know what you’re making and make sure you have all of the ingredients. Also, it’s important to have fun. It’s hard sometimes to enjoy cooking dinner, when parents feel pressure to feed their kids a certain way. Especially with social media where you can see what everyone else is feeding their kids for dinner and it makes it seem impossible. One thing I really encourage is “un-meal” cooking. Instead of getting everyone together to cook a whole meal, get together and make a salad. Or a soup. Break your cooking down into small, doable pieces. If you just don’t have the time or energy for everything, then do one thing, even if you think it’s small, because it’s really the small things that add up to have a big impact.
Check out Kitch’N Giggles’ illustrated recipes, perfect for pre-school aged children here.