Tag Archives: quarantine

Teaching Kids to Cook

I’ve seen quite a few parents share lofty goals of things they’d like to teach their kids during this time of staying at home. Teaching kids how to cook frequently shows up on that list. As this period of staying at home has gone on, I’ve also seen most of those people post that they aren’t accomplishing most of the goals.

First, I want to say that is 100% ok to not accomplish the goals and just move on. This is a difficult time for all of us in different ways. Doing your best is all you can do.

I will be honest, I had lofty goals of things to accomplish for MYSELF, but didn’t really think about goals with my kids. Sadly, I haven’t accomplished most of my personal goals. And that’s ok. The answer to most things in this post is “that’s ok”.

Why? The most important part of teaching your kid any life skill is actually building a positive relationship with your child and having a positive experience. So do what you have to do and that’s ok. Repeat it to yourself.

However, I have actually randomly had a fair amount of success cooking with my kids during this time. This isn’t something that comes naturally for me, actually. And we have plenty of failures. But today, I thought I’d show some tips I’ve found to work for me and my kids in the kitchen. If you have any, please share in the comments. (None of the links in this post are sponsored or affiliate links. I get nothing from you clicking them. Just passing on information.)

1) Find something that makes your kid(s) excited to cook. There are subscription services out there that can be very fun, like Raddish. My daughter got a cookbook for her birthday that has really set her cooking dreams aflame. We are liking that one, but there are plenty of options out there. During this time of quarantine, America’s Test Kitchen has opened up their kid website for free. Not everything is open, but a lot is. And their kid’s club is discounted right now as well. But you don’t need any of these “official” things. Just ask your kid what they want to make and find a recipe somewhere. If they are old enough, have them find the recipe.

2) If you have multiple children, only cook with one at a time. This has caused huge breakthroughs in our house. I used to always try and cook with everyone. It just led to fights between the kids and me yelling. By going individually, things go much smoother. Does it mean my other kids sometimes watch tv? Yes, and that’s ok. Not only does this eliminate fighting amongst the kids, it lowers your stress level. You aren’t having to watch more than one kid with a knife or hot stove, etc. Also, kids love one on one time with parents, so it is a win on multiple levels.

3) Make it a “set” thing. As set as you can make it. We don’t have a set night, but my daughter knows she will cook dinner one night a week. When I am menu planning, she picks it out and we put it on the schedule. She knows it is coming and is excited about it. This also makes it a bit easier only allowing one kid in the kitchen – the other’s know when their turns are.

4) Allow for spontaneity. I know that goes against the last one. While we have the set times, if my daughter randomly asks to make breakfast or a dessert, I try to work that in as I can. But if I’m not feeling up to it, I say no. And that’s ok.

5) Be prepared for a mess. A huge mess. As they are making the mess, just take deep breaths. Realize you were going to have to clean up no matter what. If they are old enough (or have cooked enough to know how to not make as much of a mess), make them help clean it up. Nothing like cleaning up your own mess to teach cleaner cooking. But also, it is ok to have messes. It’s part of the process. However, if the mess is getting out of control and raising your stress level, you can end the cooking session with kids at anytime. And that’s ok.

6) You don’t have to let them do everything. A kid with a knife stress you out? Don’t give them one. That’s ok. The kid can’t muster the muscles to mash potatoes (true story at our house)? That’s ok. Every time the kid whisks half of the mix ends up on the counter? Don’t let them whisk. That’s ok. Let them do as much as you can while keeping the experience positive for both of you. If either of you hate it, it won’t keep happening.

7) Keep the end goals in mind. Positive time together. Building a relationship. Some day (far away likely) they will be independent. Teaching some health and life skills. A picture perfect meal with a picture perfect kitchen isn’t in there. And that’s ok.

I hope any of these tips help you out. Let me know if you have any great tips for cooking with kids. We all need all the help we can get!

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More tips for healthy eating during a pandemic

Line for toilet paper at my local Wal-Mart recently

I like to keep posts fairly short and sweet around here. Especially right now, I often don’t have the world’s greatest attention span. Small steps help me. I hope you enjoyed my tips last week and found them helpful. Here are a few more tips for eating healthy while staying safe during this pandemic.

1. Keep to your pre-pandemic routines. If you had a good routine for meal prepping or making a lunch to take to work, I would recommend keeping that up. While it may seem silly since you are home, it will have at least two good effects. First, it will make life feel a bit more normal in this crazy time. Second, when life does go back to normal, you won’t have to start your good habits up again. Plus, if you make lunch in the morning, you can use your “lunch break” time to eat and go for a walk or read a book or something else fun.

2. Celebrate food holidays. There are tons of food holidays. Use your time at home to celebrate them if you can. We need any reason to celebrate. A friend or relative having a birthday? Make their favorite foods for yourself. Next week is Cinco de Mayo. This Saturday was supposed to be the Kentucky Derby. It is beef, barbecue, egg, salad, salsa, and strawberry month in May. Have fun with it!

3. In a similar vein, try new things. Always wanted to learn how to cook a certain dish? Maybe now is the time to try. Perfect your Grandma’s pierogi recipe (see Some Good News for a cute segment on that). Have fun!

4. On the opposite end of the spectrum, remember not every meal needs to be a made from scratch homemade gourmet wonder. If you have kids, they very likely could make their own lunches. Many school districts around the country are offering school lunch pick up. We do this a couple days a week. They also pack breakfast for the next day – we usually use these as the rest of the day’s snacks. Check with your local school district to see what options they have. Just because you are home does not mean you need to spend inordinate amounts of time in the kitchen. I am personally veering toward quick and easy dinners as I’m usually out of patience by the time dinner time rolls around.

5. Get creative in your grocery shopping. Most of us are trying to go to the store less. There are often CSA’s or other produce services out there that will deliver produce to you. You can also choose produce that lasts longer. Carrots, potatoes, onions, brussels sprouts, garlic, apples, and oranges are a few items that keep particularly well. Frozen veggies are also a good option. Not storing your produce wet will often help it last longer. Placing asparagus bottoms in a glass of water in the fridge helps it last longer.

On a side note, many sites have some great offerings to help in this time. America’s Test Kitchen has some great recipes, substitution tips, free videos for kids, and more. There are many others as well, but that is one of my favorites.

I hope you find these tips helpful. I’ll hopefully be back later this week with a pantry friendly recipe for Cinco de Mayo. Happy staying at home!

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Filed under Nutrition