Meal Planning Week 15 gets the kids in the kitchen with you. You would be surprised at what you can learn and accomplish when the family cooks together.
Meal Planning Week 15 gets the kids in the kitchen with you. When you get the kids involved they might not be such picky eaters. Let them help select recipes for dinner, have them help with grocery shopping, and let t hem help with cooking or baking. Of course, this didn’t really keep me from being a picky eater. However, I was only picky on certain things. And, eventually, I did get over it for the most part.
I will confess. I was a picky eater growing up.
My family jokes that all I would eat at a Chinese restaurant is Moo Goo Gai Pan or beef with broccoli. And seafood restaurants? Popcorn shrimp. Never fish or fish sticks. I couldn’t actually stand fish sticks. They just tasted so…. Gross. And they still kind of do. I had some recently.
When we were old enough, my parents told us we needed to help with the meal planning, shopping, and cooking. They asked us to pick out some food we wanted to have for dinner. If we could find a recipe or had a recipe that was even better but not necessary. Then we helped put together the grocery list for the items needed for our recipe and for regular weekly items needed.
This sense of responsibility meant the pressure was on to make something everyone would like. But also find something interesting and different to make. Even if that means it’s something someone else might not like. Like tuna casserole.
Who doesn’t like tuna casserole, right? Well, Dad. And there’s a reason he doesn’t like it and bananas. Papa worked for Kroger for over 30 years. And, well, we all know bananas don’t last forever. So, Papa used to bring them home to eat and to bake with. So, he got tired of bananas. And tuna casserole because when he was in college he lived with his sister. And that’s pretty much the only thing she knew how to make. Eventually she made other dishes, but that was much later.
How to start getting your kids involved in dinner?
Meal Planning Week 15 is all about getting the kids in the kitchen. For starters, offer 2 options. I’m sure mine did this and we didn’t realize that’s how they started integrating us into the kitchen and making dinner. Once they get used to picking between say chicken or beef, or say soup or salad, then add more items to the list. Maybe give them a list of 3 or 4 main dishes, side dishes, salads, etc. for them to choose from.
Once they’re used to that, help them find new and exciting recipes to try. Is there a favorite dish from a restaurant they want to try to make at home? Are they adventurous enough to try a completely new cuisine from another country? Or a new ingredient from the international grocery store? These are ways you can get your kids interested in cooking and learning about new ingredients and types of dishes.
When they’re excited about learning new dishes or learning about new types of foods to eat, try watching some cooking shows together. This used to be a Saturday ritual for Dad and me. We would make breakfast and then plop in front of the TV. We would watch all those great cooking shows on PBS. Jacques and Julia, Yan Can Cook, Lydia Bastianich, Natalee Dupree, and Sara Moulton are just a few of my favorites.
Dad and I would talk about the dishes, see if we can recreate it from the cooking show, or try to find a recipe for the dish. Granted, this was WELL before the internet. So, we bought cookbooks, cooking magazines, and took notes from those shows to add new items to our menu. That’s what made cooking and being part of the process so fun and exciting for me. And it was a great way for Dad and I to really bond.
How do you get your kids to help in the kitchen?
Start them out young. I had the coolest Tupperware set when I was a kid. I love the little spatula, mixing bowl, rolling pin, and rolling mat. It was fun to use them all the time with Playdoh. Then they bought me an Easy Bake Oven. Oh my. That was a game changer for me! I was hooked on baking at that point.
For Meal Planning Week 15, get your kids in the kitchen by putting them to work! You’d be surprised how well they can mash, scrub, and even peel veggies. I learned at a very young age how to grate and not grate my fingers. And my parents taught me almost everything I know about using a knife. I’ve learned a few tricks from all those cooking shows, but the basics came from Mom and Dad. I can finely dice an onion like a pro!
Kids could easily measure ingredients and then help to mix them together. They can stir the pot while you’re working on something else. Kids are great at setting timers and make great taste testers. Having them taste the foods and asking if it needs more salt, pepper, another flavor like cayenne or rosemary. It really means you value their input, and they are an important part of the cooking process.
Take your kids to a farmer’s market or start growing some herbs or an avocado at home. This brings the farm to table type of idea to them. They can see all the foods that are seasonal at the market which is always best to cook what is in season. And growing something means they can see how much work and effort it goes into growing food. They will appreciate the whole cycle from growing it to eating it and might inspire a budding chef!
Why should you cook with your kids?
Oh, my goodness. Meal Planning Week 15 is all about the family bonding from cooking together. Cooking was and still us a huge part of our family. It truly is part of family culture. I remember all of us getting in the kitchen to cook an Asian meal. From handmade dim sum and dumplings, egg drop or won ton soup, egg rolls, General Tsao’s chicken, happy family, and even date filled wontons for dessert. It was a time where we all had a task and had to work together to get dinner on the table.
Cooking with your kids also allows them to express interest in other cultures. It allows them to expand their sense of sight with new ingredients, smell as the dish is cooking, and taste! Having them taste as the dish is cooking allows them to learn how to season food to it tastes great.
Like adding a little salt to sweet to heighten the sweetness. Adding nutmeg to Alfredo or cheese sauces to really brings out the richness of the sauce. These are things kids can learn in the kitchen and be chefs of their own kitchen as the grow up and have their own families.
It also teaches them a sense of independence. At least that’s what I got the most out of helping select recipes, make the grocery list and go shopping, and finally making the dinner. I mean, I knew I wasn’t going to stay with my parents forever. And having some cooking skills under my belt meant I could eat healthier and not rely on repackaged foods.
Even as a little kid, they would set out bowls, spoons, and a couple of boxes of cereal. I had a choice and was responsible enough to pour my own milk. It taught me to be self-reliant and independent, for sure. I didn’t have to wait for my parents to wake up and make me breakfast. I could make my own. It was a win win! They got to sleep in and I could be a big girl and make my own breakfast.
So, get the kids in the kitchen. There are many list lessons to be had. Along with some great family bonding moments. I remember those times fondly. Maybe I need to make some tamales in honor of Dad. And some perogies for mom.