I’m a mom who loves food: I love to eat, cook, and watch anything food related. Having one kid who is a very picky eater and one who is more adventurous, I find that watching family-friendly food docs and TV shows together encourages them to try new things. Even better, it often encourages them to want to cook themselves.
From educational and inspiring food documentaries to fun cooking competition shows, these 7 docs and food TV shows for kids — that are fun for us to watch too — are sure to educate and entertain. Or at the very least, make everyone hungry.
Fed Up is a documentary available on Netflix narrated by Katie Couric that uses statistics, research, and interviews about the effects of sugar on our bodies. It follows several families struggling with childhood obesity and their efforts to cut back on their sugar intake. It’s a bit sensationalized and may have you reading every nutrition label like a hawk, but it’s a really good reminder — or maybe a wake up call — about the impact that too much sugar has on our bodies.
My family saw this film at a film festival screening a couple of years back and I loved that it encouraged us to started reading labels and inspired healthier eating. For awhile at least. After all of the ice cream we’ve eaten this summer, I think we may watch Fed UP again for family movie night soon.
The Kids Menu
Like Fed Up, The Kids Menu is a documentary available on Netflix about how healthy eating, especially in childhood, is very important. Unlike Fed Up, The Kids Menu uses a more upbeat approach: It shows kids and schools making positive changes with food and nutrition as part of their education. Whether it’s a school-garden-to-table program or kids working to get healthier lunch choices in their school cafeteria, this is such a great documentary for families with younger kids that will help foster an appreciation for real food and maybe some activism too.
The Great British Baking Show
If your family loves food competition shows then you should check out The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. It’s an absolutely fab baking contest that my girls and I are obsessed with. You get the competition, big personality judges, and tons of drool-worthy shots of sweets, all with a British twist. Besides great accents and different baking terms for an American audience — biscuits are cookies, not buttery rolls of bread — we love how the contestants and judges are all so nice and supportive of each other. Well done!
Kids Baking Championship
My 10-year-old loves every season of Kids Baking Championship on Food Network and I love watching with her. It’s hard not to love the 12 kids who compete for the best baker title in a 10 week competition. Their skills are seriously amazing and all of the kids are really likable. You’ll root for them all, and also love the judges. Ace of Cakes’ Duff Goldman and actress/cook Valerie Bertinelli are sweet and so supportive.
A Place at the Table
Perhaps a more powerful way than lecturing to get your kids to keep from wasting their food is to watch A Place at the Table. This powerful doc available on Hulu takes a good look at hunger right here in the United States. By showing real communities dealing with poverty and food insecurity, this film will help kids become more aware of the issue. It’s a fantastic opportunity to open their eyes to the fact that even some of their classmates might get their meals from government assistance programs or food pantries. And it may inspire you and your family to donate to your local food pantry.
My teen can’t get enough of Good Eats, the show that made Alton Brown famous. Netflix offered all 252 episodes, but sadly that run ended. However, you can still watch videos on FoodNetwork.com, Hulu, and The Cooking Channel. If you haven’t watched before, the show breaks down the science of cooking with humor, fun and quirky props, and weird characters and skits. It’s like a cooking show mixed with The Pee Wee Herman Show, if you can imagine that. Brown has hinted that the popular show may return next year and I can’t wait!
The kid version of the popular Chopped on Food Network is great for families with younger kids. Even older kids who love the grownup series will want to see other tweens and teens compete. Each episode of Chopped Junior features three different contestants who have to cook three meals for various judges. The least favorite gets eliminate, aka chopped, and the winner gets $10,000. It’s a fun, fast-paced show that will inspire all ages to work on their cooking skills.