Cooking With Your Kids: What’s the Big Deal?

Why Cook With Your Kids

Over the past six days, we’ve looked at several different recipes which are kid friendly, both in how they taste and (mostly) in how they are prepared.  At the very least, the recipes were reasonably healthy and there were at least a few steps that younger children could do under adult supervision.

But one question remains.  Why?  What’s the big deal about your cooking with your kids?

I wish this question were a no-brainer, but the more I read about health issues, childhood obesity, and even childen who fail to adjust as adults because no one spent time with them, I just keep wondering how we can afford to not cook with our children.  Really, in the end, cooking with your children isn’t just a great way to nourish their bodies, but their minds and their hearts, too.

Nourishment of the Body

Without a doubt, food you cook at home from basic ingredients (ie nothing straight out of a box and into the microwave) is going to be healthier than what you get at a restaurant or from a box.  Restaurant food (while delicious) is stuffed full of butter and oil and sodium and stuff you and your children really don’t need.

That’s why we stressed healthy over the past six days.  It was imporant that we didn’t just show how to make a burger and fries or chicken strips.  They are easy enough to do, but they should be sometimes foods.

And granted, we didn’t always succeed.  There was butter in the noodles and oil in the rice, but overall those dishes are going to be healthier than their equivalent dish at a restaurant.

Still, that’s largely secondary to the real reason you should cook with your kids…

Nourishment of the Mind and the Heart

Cooking with my son is time we spend together and as a dad who travels a lot and works a lot, that’s invaluable.  If I were to be nothing more than pragmatic, when BWD, Jr. and I cook together it kills two birds with one stone.  We get food on the table and we spend a good thirty minutes together.

But it’s so much more.  My son takes genuine pride in the fact that he’s my sous chef, I’m the head chef, and Mrs. WellDone is the pastry chef.  (Well, technically she’s the bakestry chef, but that’s close enough.)  We use cooking as a way to get him to try new things, learn new skills (like counting, fractions, colors, etc.) as well as learning to love cooking. 

Plus, he takes pride in the things he makes, even if at this point all he makes is um… interesting combinations of soy sauce, seasoning salt, and whatever cheap spices we can find on sale at the grocery.  (Oh, by the way, he makes us try them using the same logic on us that we use on him when it comes time to try something new… shudder.)

Ultimately, there was just something deeply profound about the last time I had to travel for work and I told him that he was the man of the house.  His reply: “Does that mean I’m the head chef and mommy’s the sous chef?”

Pretty cool.

Cooking With Your Kids: The Guide

Despite these recipes and the fact I love cooking with my son, cooking with your kids is hard.  Especially when they are younger and can’t read recipes.  Here are some things I keep in mind when I cook with BWD, Jr.

I look for recipes which involve minimal cutting (which I always do) and lots of steps that he can handle.  At this point, those steps are fairly limited, but include stirring, rinsing, kneading dough, and using a pizza cutter on dough.  You know your kids and you know what they’re ready for…find recipes that fit their skills.  Then let them participate.

The important thing you have to remember is not to get upset.  That’s the problem I have…I start worrying more about the dish than about the time with my son and sometimes I have a tendency to take over or get short.  It’s not worth it.  Use the time to be with your children.  Leave the gourmet for some other time.

Hopefully that helps.  Now, get out there and cook with your kids.


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