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At its basic level, food is a source of sustenance – but in reality, it’s much more than. It’s often one of the central themes of celebrations such as weddings and birthdays; families and friends come together to socialise over a meal; relationships may blossom through a dinner date; and colleagues take time out of their day to have lunch together.

 

But while we often eat together, cooking together isn’t so popular, despite having a wealth of benefits! 🍏

 

So, we asked friend of Paycare and Wellbeing Expert, Laura Butler from WelLBe Coaching, to share how food can bring us together… 🙌

 

Cooking as a family, and with loved ones, brings us together because we are able to share our culture, heritage and much-loved memories through food whilst providing each other with nourishment. Coming together and sharing a meal is the most communal and binding thing in almost every place in the world, but let’s talk about the prep…

 

Any parent of young children knows just how easy it is to cover the kitchen in a cloud of flour, use every pot, pan, utensil you own, find ingredients splattered and smushed in the most unusual of places and all while you are trying to curb your OCD (and your language). So, it’s no wonder many parents like to fly solo in the kitchen at meal times.

 

But when families cook together, the benefits to everyone make it more than worth the extra clean up. If you’re not in the habit of cooking together, there are many reasons you’ll want to. And if you’re already cooking together as a family — awesome.

 

Here’s why you should keep up the good work…

 

Cooking your meals together increases your family’s health, unifies the family, is an engaging and offline social activity, can aid picky eaters to be more adventurous, it promotes gratitude and is an excellent developmental activity for small children while giving everyone, no matter what age, a sense of achievement 😃

 

Family bonding:

 

First and foremost, cooking and baking together gives families a time to share, bond and work together. The reality of today’s family is that most of us are busy, with work, school/home-schooling, kids’ activities, homework and other responsibilities gobbling up most of our time. Setting aside a time where the entire family can work together to create a meal gives us a chance to pause, catch up and just connect with each other.

 

While we find ourselves all confined together during lockdown, we still may be working, finding entertainment or connecting to others outside of the family on screens and home schooling. So, this precious time we can carve out to cook and bake together gives us an opportunity to talk, voice our fears, learn about each other and check in with how we are feeling. This is really important for children right now who are dealing with so much, fun baking in the kitchen is a safe place to casually talk and find out what is going on in their little minds, then allow them to release any worries by talking it through.

 

If you’re able to set aside a specific meal or two that you always make as a family, it’ll also give everyone ‘together time’ to look forward to. It could be Pizza Friday, Sunday Brunch or whatever works best for your family. You could also pick a weekend day to work together to prepare a meal or two for later in the week.

 

Children can learn practical and soft skills:

 

Kids can learn a range of skills in the kitchen, even when they’re exploring on their own. But many of the ‘soft skills’ kids can learn really only come out when they’re cooking with others – these include social skills, communication skills, and team work.

 

The skills needed to prepare and cook foods will last your kids a lifetime. Following a recipe, measuring, preparing food and using different techniques to cook it (as well as cleaning up of course!) will all give them confidence when they finally venture into the outside world and you can be safe in the knowledge that they won’t be going hungry or just living off takeaways!

 

It is also said that children who have an enjoyment for cooking grow up having a better understanding and passion for health, eating a more balanced diet and being aware that different foods aid the body for different functions 🙌

 

But what if you’re just not a good cook? It’s OK to let your children know you’re learning too! If there’s a certain technique you’re unsure about, just get yourself on to YouTube (seriously, you can learn anything on YouTube) or cooking websites together. This way, kids can also learn valuable lessons about recognizing one’s strengths and weaknesses, taking initiative to learn new things, and using technology to seek out information.

 

So, what will you be cooking this weekend?

 

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For more health and wellbeing tips, simply head to our blog: https://www.paycare.org/about-paycare/blog/  📖