Some of my favorite memories with my children involve them helping me in our kitchen. The chopping, stirring, measuring, and mixing, just brings back the best memories for me. I have loved seeing their faces when the meal is done being prepared and the sense of pride they have. They always seem so excited to eat what they helped prepare. When I was younger, the kitchen was always off limits to me. It was just far too dangerous for me to be around the fire, the knives, and anything else that would either scar me or maim me. I remember just wanting to be where all the action was.
As a child I didn’t get much say in what was being served for dinner. Whatever was prepared for me, I was required to eat. I don’t know about you, but lima beans just don’t scream, “Best Dinner Ever” to a six year old. There were days that I wasn’t particularly stoked about my dinner options. I was still required to clean my plate before there was any allowance to leave the dinner table. It was the worst sort of torture for any child growing up in a black household in the 80’s.
When I got older, and was actually allowed in the kitchen, I couldn’t cook! My entire cooking portfolio consisted of heating ravioli up in the microwave, and frying shoestring french fries. My mom cooked on occasion. Let me tell you, no one can make a meaner Hamburger Helper meal like my mom. If she reads this article, she’s going to get me. As a college student my cooking skills still hadn’t improved. I was able to add spaghetti and scrambled eggs to my repertoire. I was moving up in the world! It wasn’t until my junior year of college, when I moved off campus that I was actually forced to teach myself to cook. I didn’t have the dorm cafeteria to help sustain me.
There are many things that take a certain set of skills in life. Cooking happens to be one of them. Everyone who cooks, can’t cook. Does that make sense? I hope it does, because I have come across plenty of terrible cooks in my lifetime. Bleh! Like many kitchen novices; I spent most of my time watching The Food Network, The Cooking Channel and cooking shows on PBS. It was my determination to be a cook who knew how to cook that fueled me. Between classes I spent a lot of time practicing how to use a knife correctly. I learned different chopping techniques, and all the different styles of cooking. Oftentimes I visited friends and watched them cook, and even became really good at duplicating some of their family recipes. I can make a mean baked macaroni and cheese thanks to my girl Qweet!
As a mother, I’ve always believed it was my job to impart as much wisdom into my children as much as I can. We are a homeschooling family so we pretty much do EVERYTHING together. Over the years our family continued to grow. I knew that our serving sizes for meals would have to increase. There have been many trials and errors when it comes to perfecting serving sizes for eight people.
I have had plenty of nights where there was too much food, and nights where there was just enough food that there weren’t any leftovers. I’ve gotten better as the time has gone on, but boy was it a struggle. Meal prepping has helped a lot and reading serving sizes on packages has also helped a ton. As I learned how to be more efficient in the kitchen, I have passed that knowledge onto our children. We have had entire homeschool lessons on how to budget and how meal prep.
Getting our kids in the kitchen has been the highlight of my mothering experience. Over the years I have developed a serious love for cooking and I have loved sharing that with our kids. In turn, our kids love getting in the kitchen and making the most delicious meals that they’ve learned from me, as well as dishes they’ve come across on various cooking shows and cooking videos.
I knew that I didn’t want to repeat my own history of banning our children from the kitchen so I made sure to include them in a lot of the prep work for meals. If our kids could hold a spoon, they could help stir. As they got older, they learned how to safely handle a knife, and we took a tour of our local fire station to learn about fire safety in the kitchen. I tried to lay a good safety foundation for our kids so that we’re all comfortable and safe in the kitchen.
Over the years I have learned that the more I involved the kids in helping in the kitchen the more outgoing they have become in their eating habits. It’s now to the point where my kids will suggest random vegetables that I haven’t tried they want to add to our meal plans. Bok Choy, really? Not only do I involve the kids in the preparation and cooking of meals, I let them create our dinner menus. You might think I’m crazy to do that, but it has made such an awesome difference in our dinner routine. As I allowed our kids to create a dinner menu, I found there were fewer complaints about what was being served for dinner. If we’re being honest, our kids make healthier dinner menus than I do!
The best part about getting our kids in the kitchen means that they have the confidence to try new things when it comes to cooking. We have found gifts in our children that we would have never known existed had we not provided the opportunity for our kids to explore. Our oldest daughter has turned out to be the best baker in the house.
Meanwhile, our middle daughter has far exceeded me in quite a few dishes.
Last but not least, our oldest son has become quite the grill master.
Between our three oldest kids we have created a kitchen powerhouse. I’m now able to recuse myself from dinner duties at least 2-3 times a week. Our younger kids are learning just as our older kids did and I am looking forward to the time when I can completely hand over my dinner duties for good (or at least for a few years).
If you’d like to check some easy recipes you can try with your kids in the kitchen, Check out a few videos that our girls have on our Youtube Channel.
My hope is that I’ve inspired you to get your kids into the kitchen. Go make some messes and some memories!
Talk again soon