BigM will be six soon. In my Mom’s family, by the time the kids were his age they were in the kitchen helping to cook. I decided that it was time for BigM to learn as well. I didn’t want him to just learn to cook though. We have ended up raising him without much appreciation of where things come from. To help with this I wanted him to go through the entire process. This is how the idea of having him take over one meal per week was born.
We sit down with BigM and help him use the computer to find a recipe to cook. Eventually I may pick up a kids cooking recipe book for him but for now Pinterest is working. I let him decide everything. He is very visual and that is why Pinterest works so well for him, I can scroll through pictures of dishes and he can pick which one he wants to use. Once he has picked a dish we save the recipe and work with him to go through the ingredient list to see what we have and what we need. While doing this he writes up a shopping list. When we go grocery shopping we take him with us and he shops for what he needs for his two meals. I usually try to do this at the store that has the kid sized shopping carts so he can put the foods for his stuff in his cart. When it comes time to do his meal plan he helps to prep and cook the meal.
I did put some limitations and rules on this whole process. When making his menu he has to choose a meat, carbohydrate and a vegetable. Having fruit or a dessert is up to him. Surprisingly he hasn’t planned a dessert or fruit with any of his meals so far. When it comes to prepping and cooking he isn’t allowed to use anything sharper than a table knife, can’t take items in and out of the oven and has to have close supervision and limited activities at the stove. We let him do things like pour rice into a pan but HD does most of the stirring and flipping. We are teaching him how to start the oven pre-heating.
His first two meals have gone over very well. He chose 40 garlic baked chicken with Spanish rice and broccoli for one meal. The second meal he chose Greek meatballs with cheesy zucchini rice and baby carrots. Everyone loved the chicken and rice and had seconds. We may just introduce that meal into our normal rotation. The greek meatballs ended up not happening when we ran out of ground meat but he did make the cheesy zucchini rice. That side dish wasn’t as good and we probably won’t make it again. That’s ok though because these were all new recipes that we hadn’t tried cooking before.
We do plan on continuing this on a weekly basis. The first two tries were super successful and maybe with time BigM will come to appreciate the effort it takes to plan a meal and cook it. Now if only we could do something similar with toys.