Ask anyone what their favorite dish is and I'm sure they will tell you, "There's nothing like my Mom's (enter your Mom's favorite dish here)". I love to cook! For me, it's never been a chore. One of my greatest joys in life is putting good, wholesome food on the table for my family, watching them take delight in every mouthful, and hearing every remark of tasteful satisfaction: "Mom! This is great!" "You are the best chef ever!" "You should be on one of those cooking shows!" Mind you, I know I'm no Gordon Ramsey, but in my kids eyes - I'm a cooking genius, and for me, that's all the fans I need. As my kids have gotten older, they have started to ask how I make some of their favorite dishes. My oldest had, on one occasion, begged me to write down her favorite recipes should a tragic event befall me and I die without having written them down. Silly as that remark initially sounded, it was wrapped in a voice of love that had at the age of 11 had captured what truly makes my food wonderful. They love it, not just because it tastes good, but because "it's Mom's". It wasn't long after this simple conversation that I decided - It's time to get my kids in the kitchen!
5 Reasons To Get Kids In The Kitchen
1. It Teaches Them A Basic Life SkillMy poor husband, bless his heart, can't even cook an egg. I will say this for him, it's not entirely his fault. My love of cooking has often overshadowed his need to figure it out on his own and because cooking for my family and friends is a way that I show my love - I'm always ready to rush into the kitchen to take care of my family's hunger pains. I want my kids, as they grow, to know the ins and outs of cooking, as well as kitchen safety. I love knowing that when my kids move out of the house, for college or for work, they will be confident in their ability to prepare a meal. Teaching children to cook at a young age gives them confidence in themselves. I can remember looking at all my Mom did while I was growing up (paying bills, balancing her checkbook, taking care of four kids etc.) and thinking, "How will I survive when I move out of the house?" Getting your kids in the kitchen instills in them a greater assurance that they have what it takes to take on the world. When kids know they have mastered the basics, they rise to conquer the rest.
2. It Gives Them One-on-One Time With Mom Or Dad
My kids are always asking for alone time with Mom. Between four kids and working outside of the home (not to mention all the work inside of the home) time is a hard thing to come by. It's so important to me that my kids know they are loved and cherished as individuals. These years are ones that I will never get to have again and I want to take every opportunity I have to pour my life and my love into their little hearts and minds. This desire for one-on-one time was really the biggest motivating factor for me to get my kids into the kitchen. I"ll be honest, it's faster, easier, and much cleaner, to cook dinner on my own. But the best things in life are often the things that take the most time, are never easy, and usually involve some sort of mess. Each of my oldest 3 kids (my two year old hasn't quite made it to the stage where he's ready to cook) have one night a week where it's just them and me in the kitchen. I teach them cooking techniques and how to stay safe in the kitchen, but the greatest conversations are the ones we have while we are waiting for water to boil, or the oven to preheat. It's in these times that my children know they have my undivided attention and we talk about school, friends, fears, questions, triumphs. No matter how busy the week gets, I look forward to this special time with each of my kids, and I know - they look forward to it even more.
3. It Teaches Them To Plan And Budget
When I decided to put my kids in the kitchen, I wanted them to feel like they were a part of the whole meal making process. Each week before I make my grocery list and my meal plan, my kids sit down with my recipe books, or the laptop and look at recipes. THEY decide what dish they are going to make, however, they also have a few rules they have to follow.
- Is the dish within the $20-25 a meal budget (we feed 6 people at our table every night)?
- Can I prepare the dish (with Mom's help) within 1 - 1 1/2 hours?
- What ingredients do we already have for the dish and what ingredients do I need to add to the grocery list?
- Is the dish something I could see everyone at the table enjoying (we do have a "try everything at least once" policy - but we try not to go too crazy with a table that includes a 2-yr. old, 5-yr. old, and a 6-yr. old)
- Does Mom have any coupons that will help make my meal plan even cheaper (not a must - but I'm a coupon shopper).
Another plus - I only have to plan 4 meals a week instead of 7! Score 1 for Mom!
4. It Unlocks A Passion For Food
MasterChef is one of today's hottest cooking show competitions. Recently MasterChef Junior has been added and it's quickly become one of our favorite family shows. Each week MasterChef Junior features kids, ages 8 to 12, cooking up some pretty fantastic dishes in hopes of being the best. After one of the first episodes, my daughter Eva, age 6, promptly ran into the kitchen to recreate a "MasterChef Junior Challenge" by using random foods in the kitchen to create a delicious dish. She promptly whipped up, "Eva Surprise" which consisted of some Lucky Charms, left over Ramen Noodles, some crushed up chips, and juice of some sort. She was so proud of what she had created she couldn't wait to share it with the family. Of course, her Dad and I did our best to smile and say "Mmmm" while we crunched on our pork flavored marshmallow rainbows - but it was Eva's older sister, Mariyah, who is 11, that surprised us all by scarfing down every last bite declaring how it was one of the best things she has ever eaten! I don't know if my Eva will become the next MasterChef Junior, but getting kids into the kitchen has a powerful way of unlocking a passion in them for food. When they begin to see all of the possibilities there are in cooking and baking, and when they experience for themselves the joy in preparing food for others and the satisfaction of being able to create something so tasty, they can't help but be excited about food. Maybe you want to instill in your kids a passion for eating healthy, or learning how to prepare tasty foods that are gluten free? I can promise you there's no greater way for kids to be excited about something than to allow them the opportunity to experience it for themselves. You may not be raising the next Bobby Flay or Julia Child (then again, who knows?) but you will be raising a child who understands the way that food brings people together and how they can make others feel valued by serving them something delicious
5. It Leaves A Lasting Piece Of YOU
When I put my kids in the kitchen, the first thing I did was give each of them their own recipe box. Every time they make a meal, they write it down (I help the younger ones) on a recipe card and put it in their box. Some of the meals are new ones they have found (and proudly call their "own") and others are some of their favorites recipes that Mom has made over the years. I"m so grateful that my own Mom is still on this earth and that I can pick up the phone and ask her for one of her recipes. No matter how old I get there will still be nothing like her French Toast or her Pumpkin Muffins. And no matter how old I get, biting into some of her recipes always takes me home. Years from now, I know that all of the foodsI made, that my kids loved, will be made for their families. And every time, they pull out one of their recipe cards to whip up one of "Mom's recipes", they will remember the conversations, the laughter, and most importantly, the love from our time in the kitchen. Food has a way of taking us instantly to some of the places and people we love most in this world. Whether my kids grow up to live across town, or across the world, someday, I won't get to make them dinner every night. But when they need a little piece of home, they will have it tucked away in their recipe box. When the day comes that the Lord takes me here from the earth I know one of my children's greatest treasures will be putting one of their Mom's favorite meals on their own table, for their own families, and in that moment, they will get to travel back in time, back to "Mom's Kitchen" where they learned they had what it takes to be great and that they were loved beyond measure.
How To GET YOUR KIDS IN THE KITCHEN:
- Designate one night each week for your child to be "Head Chef".
- Get them excited about cooking by letting them choose what meal they are going to make.
- Buy a recipe box, or pass down one of your own, to your child so they can record their favorite recipes.
- Add your own creative ideas to your "Kid In The Kitchen" nights. Wear fun aprons. Video all the fun and pretend you are hosting your own live cooking shows. Have "Theme Nights" like Hawaiian Luau, or Mexican Feista and make foods that fit the theme.
There are so many great reasons to get Kids In the Kitchen and so many ways to make it fun! What's one way you can get your kids in the kitchen?
In an effort to help you get your Kids In The Kitchen, Our Southern Style will be featuring "Monday Night Meals" beginning on February 16th! Each recipe will be kid-chosen and kid-prepared! We hope you'll join us and get Kids In The Kitchen!
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