Move over picky eaters – make room for children who are miniature gourmets, or "foodies." These kids are anything but finicky. Young foodies love trying new foods, recipes and restaurants. They are interested in cooking, baking and learning about food.
Intrigued? Then you'll be happy to learn that raising a foodie is a lot easier than you might expect. Here's how:
Lead by Example
It's easy to assume that kids are happiest feasting on chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese. But that's only the case when those are the foods they're used to eating. In reality, research reveals that children are most likely to prefer the foods their parents eat. Show your child that you are adventurous with different types of foods and cuisines and invite them into the kitchen to help you prepare meals.
Spend Time Together in the Kitchen
One of the best ways that parents can cultivate children's appreciation and curiosity about food is by cooking with them. When children learn to value the culinary aspect of eating, they carry that sentiment with them for the rest of their lives. There's also another benefit of cooking with your child – when you take the time to find recipes and cook them together, you have more time to bond and develop a shared interest.
Enroll your Child in a Kids-Only Cooking Class
In addition to culinary techniques, your child will learn about food safety, storage and presentation. It’s also a wonderful way to reinforce math skills. What's more, kids get to meet other like-minded mini foodies.
Think Beyond Flavor
During meal times, try to focus on food's sensory qualities such as its aroma, color and texture in addition to its flavor. Instead of simply asking, "Do you like tonight's burrito?" you might also say, "Do you like the crispy texture of the tortilla?"
Raise a Restaurant Critic
One of the best ways to teach kids an appreciation for gourmet food is to take them to lots of different kinds of restaurants. There, they can sample new dishes that are prepared differently than what they usually eat at home. If possible, choose restaurants where your child can see meals being prepared in the kitchen. That way, you can discuss the ingredients and cooking methods.
Make It Multicultural
Cuisines from around the globe can expose your child to all kinds of flavors and textures they might not normally have the opportunity to eat. Don't be afraid to try cuisines besides your local Mexican or Italian restaurant – also check out restaurants that serve foods from Southeast Asia, Africa and South America.