Parenting is a big job. Along with everything else in life, we’re supposed to teach our kids how to be responsible and have good life skills. That’s no easy task. One program that we’ve tried and had success with is having our kids cook dinner. Each child gets to cook a dinner once a week, start to finish, and clean up. Every week. It is generally a set night, but can fluctuate, depending on homework, music, and sports. The important thing is the consistency.
Getting kids to prepare meals and clean-up after themselves doesn’t happen overnight. This started years ago with my kids “helping” me in the kitchen. (Picture air-quotes being used there around the helping.) While I cooked, my assistants would help chop, measure, stir, taste or pour. After those skills were mastered, around age 8, you got to make Saturday lunch. Simple lunches are best to start with here. By the sixth grade, or age 11, you’re promoted and assigned a regular evening to cook.
I usually do the meal planning. If my kids want to make something special, they need to give me advance notice. They also get to go to the grocery store with me. This works out well and about half the time, the kids just make whatever I have scheduled. My kids seem more interested in preparing the meal when it is something they want to eat. Sometimes, I do have to help when a new recipe is being tried or the big chef’s knife comes out. After dinner, we all help clear the table and the child who cooked cleans up. Again, sometimes help is needed. Lowering of expectations is helpful.
The bottom line here is I want my kids to be prepared to go out into the world with skills to clothe, feed, and care for themselves. Cooking and cleaning are important skills that kids need to learn and if I can enjoy a glass of wine and a good book while that is being done, all the better.
Want to see what my two chefs have served for dinner during the past year? Take a peek at some of their yummy dishes…it’ll make you hungry!
Do your kids cook at your house? Is it more work for you?