In The Edible Schoolyard Garden and Cooking School, we inspire kids of all ages (including adults) to eat more veggies! With this recipe, you can employ three key strategies we use regularly to encourage kids to try and enjoy more seasonal produce!
Step 1: Get them invested in the ingredients.
If you are growing any of these ingredients in your garden, have your child help you harvest them or care for the plants as they grow. Vegetables you grew yourself always taste the best.
If you are not a gardener, no problem! Involve your child as much as possible in the ordering or picking up of food from the farmers market or grocery.
Finally, read or learn about the ingredient you are using. For young learners, a fun story read together on the day you are making the recipe will help your child make connections between books and their real world experiences. For this recipe, I recommend Pigs Love Potatoes by Anika Denise. For older kids, take a virtual field trip to a sustainable farm on YouTube or do a taste test experiment. Choose two different types of potatoes and taste test the difference at the end to see with variety is best.
Step 2: Make It Together
Pre-read the recipe and decide prior to starting if your child will have the attention span to complete the entire recipe with you or only certain steps. If your budding chef is not quite ready to see it through, highlight the “kids jobs” and set up a nearby area for them to play while you are working on the “grownup jobs.” Assure them that you will let them know as soon as you come back to a job for kids to do. Kids who like helping with parts of the recipe will slowly build up the focus and ability to work through an entire recipe. In this recipe, try the following steps with kids as young as three.
- Loading pre-measured ingredients in the food processor or blender
- Pushing the start and stop buttons on the food processor
- Drizzling the herb oil over the potatoes and stirring to coat
- Adding the celery to the bowl
- Setting the table
- Serving the potato salad by scooping some on to each person’s plate or bowl
Step 3: Taste It Together
Your child has helped you cook! The hope is that they are feeling a bit of pride in their part of this creation. If your child is feeling hesitant to try the finished product, assure them that there is no pressure to eat it, and that you would love it if you could try a “taste” together. “Let’s try a bite on the count of three and see what we think.” The excitement and anticipation you show can win some kids over. “If you really like it, you can have some more. If it isn’t your favorite, it’s okay to leave the rest on your plate.” Giving kids power over how much they eat and what happens next relieves any burden of a power struggle in their decision as to whether or not to try a new food. If they don’t try it at all this time, that’s okay too. Try to remain neutral and assure them that they will have another chance at another time when they might feel more ready to try.
Be honest, kind, and specific in your explanation when you don’t care for something. You’ll be showing your kids best practices on trying new foods and helping them build vocabulary beyond “yuck.” “This potato salad is not my favorite. The herb oil makes it more slippery than creamy and I think creamy is my favorite texture for potato salad. I’m glad I tried it. Thank you so much for helping me cook today.”
Have fun cooking and exploring food with your kids this season! Know that any exposure to cooking and tasting vegetables is great for their long-term eating habits.