Kids get creative in the kitchen

May 30, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. ET

Want your kids to eat their food? It all starts with a little creativity in the kitchen! Here are some ways to help kids get started.

Family eating fondue

1How does your garden grow

Kids love getting dirty, so why not let them start in the garden? Kids will show more interest in eating their vegetables if they have a hand in growing or picking it, or even washing and cooking it. Need creative garden inspiration? Start with a small box garden with easy-to-grow veggies like tomatoes, lettuce and carrots, as well as a variety of herbs. When your garden is ready to harvest, ask for your kids' help in deciding how you'll prepare their hand-grown vegetables. If you don't have a garden, let your kids help you choose recipes from a cookbook, then make a list together, head to the store and have them help you select the items needed. Then, get cooking together!

2Pizza party

What kid doesn't love pizza? Ditch the delivery and instead have your own pizza party by letting your kids help you make the dough (really, it's so easy to do on your own. If you simply don't have the time to make it from scratch, pick up a yummy ready-made dough from your fave pizzeria). Then separate small balls of dough for each member of your family, set out small bowls of toppings, plus sauce and cheese, and let everyone make his or her own personalized pizza!

When you're looking through cookbooks with your kids, select a kid-friendly one with lots of enticing photos, as well as easy-to-do recipes that kids can realistically help out with.

3Fun with fondue

Kids love dipping and dunking, and fondue is actually a sneaky way to get your kids to eat their fruits and vegetables. After all, broccoli and cauliflower are simply delicious dunked in cheese, and what kid ever turned down a chocolate-covered strawberry or banana? Sure, fondue is a cheesy or (and!) chocolatey indulgence, but the veggie/fruit intake is worth the trade-off, not to mention the fun your family will have huddled around the fondue pot.

Bond over food with these fun family meal ideas >>

4Messy measuring

Baking sounds like a task when you have little ones, and yes, sometimes life with kids is just… well, messy. But messy can be fun and educational, too, and as long as you prepare for the mess, clean up won't be too bad. Baking is a great way to get kids to start thinking about math and measurements, so lay some newspaper down, get out the plastic measuring cups and spoons, and use baking a cake or cookies as an opportunity to help your kids add (we need 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup flour. How many cups does that equal?). You can help younger kids learn to count by having them help you pick the right number eggs out of the carton, for example.

5Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up

Ah, the ever present task of cleaning up the kitchen. Sigh. Yes, it's a dreaded duty for all, but if you get creative with clean up, even the kids will want to pitch in! Let kids don their own aprons and even kitchen gloves, then give them kid-friendly (but real) kitchen cleaning products (like colorful and fun-shaped sponges).

Kids love bubbles. (Duh.) Fill the sink with suds, and let them splash a little while you scrub dishes.

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