The Unexpected Benefits of Cooking With Your Child

A lot of good things have come from this quarantine. One of my favorite traditions that we have started is a weekly cooking night with the kids.

We have been rotating through my 4 oldest children, letting them choose what to make on their “cooking day”. Saturday night is our designated night for kid’s cooking, though we have had to adjust a couple times for other events- but we always make sure it happens sometime during that week. My kids were SO excited to start this tradition, and it’s now been going on for 2 months and it’s still going strong!

We started with my oldest and have been rotating down through everyone from there. When it’s their week for a “cooking day”, they get to choose the meal. They pick a main entree, a side of some kind, and a dessert. I make sure to buy any groceries we need, and then Saturday that child gets to help me in the kitchen while we prepare their meal. I knew I needed to get my children in the kitchen more often to help grow their cooking skills- but I have seen so many other benefits as well!

  • It’s scheduled one-on-one time. As a busy mother of 5, it’s sometimes hard to feel like I get enough alone time with each child. This cooking night has provided an opportunity for me to spend one-on-one time with each child- and I’ve loved it! They have definitely loved it too. Each child gets SO excited for their cooking night, and you can tell they feel really special when they get to be the one helping mommy in the kitchen.
  • I’m able to teach them skills on their level. It’s hard to have everyone help in the kitchen at the same time. It’s stressful and there’s usually more arguments over who gets to put in the flour vs the chocolate chips, etc. It’s just harder! But having them in the kitchen one at a time allows me to devote all my attention to one child, which means I can meet them where they’re at. My two year old can help me put the ingredients in, while my 8 year old can practice cutting soft fruit with a knife or heating up noodles on the stove.

  • We’ve tried several new recipes that I wouldn’t have tried otherwise! My son chose homemade mac n’ cheese and homemade chicken nuggets. My daughter wanted to do a braided biscuit (from a princess cookbook), and my other daughter wanted to make cupcakes that look like chickens :). We’ve made burgers, omelets, smoothies, tacos, chocolate cakes, cherry surprise cakes, oatmeal applesauce cookies- all sorts of things! Many of these recipes are ones I probably wouldn’t have made otherwise, and it’s been fun to try so many new things!
  • We’re eating out less. Since Saturday night is reserved for my child’s “cooking day”, I know I won’t be going out to eat, no matter how tired or busy I am- because we already have a meal on the calendar, and you can bet my kids will make sure I keep that appointment ;). So it’s healthier AND cheaper!

  • My kids are trying lots of new foods. Since THEY are the ones making the food, my other kids are all much more apt to willingly try new foods. We have fun sharing what our favorite part of the meal was and looking back at previous meals. My kids are also getting experience planning out meals- learning what sides mesh well with particular entrees, etc. It’s a great learning experience for the palate all around!
I have thoroughly enjoyed this new tradition, and it’s definitely one we plan on keeping around. While initially my plan was simply to increase my child’s kitchen skills, I have seen so many other benefits! I encourage everyone to schedule a “cooking day” with your child or grandchild, even if it’s only once a month, or you only do one part of a meal instead of the whole thing. Start simple and build up from there. I promise you won’t regret it!

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    Camille Hoffmann
    Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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