In my family, we try to eat nutritious foods. Vegetables, fish, meat, fruit, nuts. My kids have grown up eating this way and love fresh and wholesome foods.
I want them to eat this way for the rest of their lives. I want their comfort food to be these healthy options, so that when they’re older and sick or stressed or feeling homesick, they will return to good foods as a default.
So when they go off on their own, whether it’s to college, or to anywhere else, and they’re living by themselves, with a roommate, or with a partner, they’ll able to make the nutritious foods they’ve grown up with. I want them to be able to cook.
I don’t want them to be limited to packaged foods, restaurant fare, and other pre-prepared meals. I want them to feel confident and brave in the kitchen, knowledgeable about how to wash, peel, cut, and cook vegetables. I want them to know how to make meat and fish that’s delicious and good for their bodies. I want them to know how to make the better-for-us treats we occasionally make for celebrations.
So, even though our kitchen in this house is narrow and cramped, I’m getting them into the kitchen. Even though it would be faster to do everything myself, I’m showing my kids how to cook. I’m letting them hold the tools and measure ingredients. I’m getting them to help me prepare the things they love most – ownership of the process makes them even more invested in the outcome (and even more likely to eat the foods they prepare).
They’ve both loved making flounder with me for years. It’s so easy – after I thaw and dry off the fish, they “paint” it with olive oil and sprinkle on herbs and pepper (I do the salt). We bake it, and they stuff themselves silly, full of fish and whatever vegetable we’ve made alongside it.
But I want them to make more. Do more. Own more of our kitchen processes.
And the only way to teach them to cook is by letting them. Letting them cook. Letting them stir. Letting them make mistakes. Letting them splash the batter out of the bowl by accident. Digging eggshells out of the bowl because they’ve crushed another one. Mopping up the counter when they spill the milk. Laughing over burned cookies or cookies that have melded into one super-cookie.
Some of this is easy. Some of it’s harder.
And sometimes I need a bit of guidance. Like when I let my kids graduate from this chopper Joey is using and moving to real knives. We’re doing it. We’ve signed up for this free knife skills class and we’re working through it. Halfway through the first video I had already made some notes of things I needed to be sure to teach my kids about knives.
This summer is going to be full of cooking. I’ve made special dates with each of my kids – Anneliese will cook with me on Saturdays, and Joey will have his turn on Sundays. We’ll learn together. They’ll practice new skills. We’ll make delicious food and I’m sure we’ll have plenty of flops along the way.
I’m definitely getting the Kids Cook Real Food course for my kids and myself this summer, so that we can move beyond the knife skills we’re practicing now. I’ve been doing okay on my own, but the curriculum will give me even greater structure for teaching my kids 30 different kitchen skills (not just making a recipe).
We’re going to have so much fun.
And they’re going to gain skills that will serve them (and their healthy bodies!) throughout their lives.