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The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Melissa Batai. Melissa is a freelance writer who covers topics ranging from personal finance to business to organics to food. She blogs at Mom’s Plans where she shares her family’s journey to healthier living and paying down debt.
My parents, who were wonderful at teaching me about budgeting and stretching a dollar, taught me nothing about saving for retirement because they didn’t know much about it themselves. As a result, I want to teach my son the importance of opening a Roth IRA at a young age.
However, just as important as teaching children about managing their finances is teaching them practical life skills that will save them money over their lifetimes. Teaching them how to pay less for every major purchase is important. However, another one that is often overlooked can save them tens of thousands of dollars over their lifetime. This skill seemingly has nothing to do with personal finance.
What skill am I talking about?
Teach your child to cook and, better yet, to enjoy cooking, and you will help him save thousands of dollars over his lifetime.
Why Is Learning to Cook Important?
Each of these items costs more than meals cooked at home from scratch. Depending on how often they go out to eat, my guess is that they could save 30 to 50% off their weekly food expenditures by buying basics and cooking at home.
Don’t forget that eating huge quantities of processed food and unhealthy restaurant food can take a toll on your physical health. You may gain weight, and with the weight gain, you expose yourself to a host of medical issues including diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Sure, these things won’t happen overnight, but after a few decades of this type of food, you’ll likely face medical interventions that can also be expensive.
How to Teach Your Children to Cook
- 2 to 4 year olds: Help add ingredients, stir, and pour batter in a pan. Set the timer.
- 5 to 7 year olds: Now is a great time to buy a kids’ cookbook and let your child pick a recipe he would like to make. He can work with you one-on-one reading the instructions and measuring out the ingredients. Older kids can also practice their math by learning how to double or triple recipes as needed.
- 8 to 9 years olds: Kids this age take even more interest in cooking, especially if they’ve been exposed to the process since they were little. They can peruse Pinterest with you to choose possible recipes. They can stir things on the stove with supervision and begin to become more independent in the kitchen.
- 10 to 12 year olds: Determine a basic list of recipes that you would like your child to master. They may be simple breakfast items like scrambled eggs and fruit salad. You’ll also want to teach them how to make some staple dinner meals that aren’t too complicated.
- 13 year olds: Now is the perfect time to teach them independence in the kitchen. You can put them in charge of making dinner one night a week. As they get older, you may also consider letting them plan the meals for the week. A great financial lesson is to give them a weekly grocery shopping budget and have them plan the meals around what you already have on hand and what is on sale.
Many of us want to teach our children the important tenets of personal finance such as saving for retirement, investing, and saving. However, teaching our children basic life skills can also go a long way to helping them preserve both their money and their health.
Share your experiences by commenting below!
***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/11921146@N03/4004900258/sizes/l/in/photolist-76Uajs-76UWkw-7ge