A little over five months ago, our boys began cooking one meal a week. They alternate weekends and have to go grocery shopping. It is a lot of fun, but plenty of work! Here’s what I’ve learned so far…
They love cookbooks with pictures
Most kids want to know what dinner is going to look like. Does it look yummy or scary? Illustrations don’t seem to convey the final product the same way. We have tried a few different cookbooks, but they really enjoy The Food Network Magazine cookbook. There is a beautiful photo for every recipe and the recipes aren’t too difficult 🙂
They aren’t scared of ingredients or the process
It doesn’t matter that they’ve never heard of something or don’t know how to do it. We have found many new parts of our grocery store looking for ingredients. It’s truly been fun exploring and discovering new flavors. There is no part of the cooking process that scares them. They don’t know what most of it means, but that doesn’t keep them from wanting to try. We have ventured well out of my cooking comfort zone. Thank goodness for google and YouTube!
I’ve found it works best to have everything prepared before cooking. It takes time to explain how to do something, let alone the fact that they are doing most of the work (slowly). We make all sauces and cut up everything before we start cooking.
Have a back-up plan
For the most part, it has been a success. The biggest challenge was carrot-ginger soup with tofu. Our youngest selected this recipe and was adamant about preparing it. I suggested having grilled cheese to go with the soup. Thankfully, he went along with it. Everyone enjoyed the soup – except the chef. I kid you not, he thought the soup (carrot soup) was too carrot-y. He ate some of it and enjoyed his grilled cheese.
It’s hard to keep my food opinions out of it
Honestly, this has been the hardest part. There are times I really want to talk them out of it (carrot-ginger soup with tofu, for one) but decided to go with it. Yes, he didn’t like what he made, but our oldest enjoyed it. We also learned about new ingredients and had a scavenger hunt in the grocery store (looking for said ingredients). The experience was worth it. It is so tempting to put my two cents worth in, but that isn’t the point. If they aren’t scared of something – why should I change that?
It’s not always easy
Like everyone, it can be difficult to make time for the store or preparing dinner. There are times the chef would rather play Legos, just like there are times Mommy would rather read, but dinner must be made 🙂 Even on the more difficult nights, we find our groove. Once we are assembling our ingredients, we are having fun.
Their personalities are coming out in their cooking
One of the funniest parts of our cooking adventure is how different they are in their selections. Our youngest has focused on seafood, while our oldest has really gone for comfort foods. It’s even crazier that they pick from the same cookbook. It shows that several people can have the same cookbook and have completely different experiences.
This applies to seafood and comfort food. There are times it’s been a battle to get them to eat chicken, turkey, ham, salmon etc. Now, they will eat all of it. Recently, we made stuffed lobster tails and they devoured them (who wouldn’t? But they do look funky). I was hopeful they would branch out, but it has far exceeded my expectations.
It’s pretty awesome!!
The boys have really grown through this experience. They are becoming more confident in their selections and enjoying shopping. They used to look uncertain in the store and now, they know where they are going. Our youngest is a regular at the seafood counter and our oldest navigates the entire store like a pro. We have all learned about different ingredients and to ask when we need help. I can’t wait to see where we go from here 🙂