Growing up I was blessed to have a mother who made everything from scratch. She grew her own garden, milked our cows and gathered eggs from the chicken coop. Each meal was a combination of home grown vegi’s, grass feed beef, and love. Since I now live in the real world not the Norman Rockwell photo from my memory, it is important that I teach my son to cook because in just a few years he will leave the nest as I did and begin to make his own culinary decisions.
1. Get your kids in the kitchen: Make it a family night; invite all the kids and the hubby into the kitchen to choose something to make, one does the salad, another garlic bread. This way they are helping as well as being taught. And don’t give in. In all fairness I should admit that my teenager would rather sit in front of the TV until his dinner is served (who wouldn’t) but I don’t run a restaurant and he is surprisingly helpful when put in front of a cutting board.
2. Let them choose: It is amazing how interested in cooking your kids will be when you let them choose what’s on the menu. My son’s first recipe was when he was 8 years old for bagel pizza’s. It was a great learning experience for me also because we choose something he loved and there were no measuring or cutting which, at the time was right up his alley.
3. Work for it: Either you shop with a list or you don’t. Personally I would not be sane if I had to go to the grocery store more than 2 times a month. We have a white board on our fridge where anyone can write down dinner ideas and items for shopping. In the store we break apart and each person collect the items on their list. This reinforces the understanding that recipes are not confusing or time consuming. Choosing produce is another arena where kids learn more by doing. How will they ever know how to choose fruit over a hamburger if they don’t practice?
4. Tedious to tantalizing: Don’t let recipes make you feel overwhelmed. There are plenty of 30 minute meal ideas available online that have a short list of ingredients and cooking time for the busy schedule you live. Best of all once your kids learn that they can make tastier food at home than anywhere else they will not hesitate to help the next time you ask.
Kids need to know that food doesn’t just appear foil wrapped in a paper bag. No matter how hectic the day is please spend time cooking with your kids. It gives them confidence and shows them how to create something from their imagination. It is my hope that when my son is grown he will choose to drive home rather than drive thru.