Over the March Break my husband and I met a woman who told us that when her kids were growing up each was responsible for preparing one evening meal a week for the whole family. They learned to cook by cooking and were completely capable in the kitchen even at the age of 12. She said it taught them an important kind of independence and a sense of responsibility.
As someone who happens to believe that cooking wholesome food from scratch is one of the most important things that you can do for your family, it’s probably no surprise that I’m particular about what I feed my kids. But it occurred to me that I’m putting a lot of effort into teaching my kids about good food, but I’m not teaching them how to prepare it.
Learning to cook is a life skill, and as parents our job is to teach kids to become independent. You can’t very well go out into the world if you don’t know how to feed yourself. Teaching our kids how to feed themselves well should be our goal. We want our kids to succeed in life, why should we lower our standards when it comes to food?
I take a lot of ribbing from my daughter, and now recently my son, about how our pantry is stocked, and that there’s never any “food” in the house.
I had quite a discussion with my son the other night, trying to find some middle ground so he’d have lunch items that didn’t draw ridicule and that I could still buy with a clear conscience. Before the discussion was over he was in the process of baking chocolate chip spelt muffins. What’s more, he took them all to school to share with his friends, in a container that I later noticed he had labeled “Magic Muffins”.
Baking is a great skill, but when Guy and I told the kids that they were going to be responsible for making one dinner a week, they groaned. They can make nachos and fry their own eggs, and with my coaching they have made homemade pizza dough, but this was all for fun. It has never been their responsibility to feed our family.
I think it’s time for our kids to take on that responsibility.
This week a colleague sent me an article titled “Why you should get your kids to make you dinner tonight.”
According to writer Sarah Elton, “…cooking from scratch is like reading or swimming or doing arithmetic – it should be something every adult can do. It’s a matter of health and culture. And this means it is our duty as parents to introduce culinary literacy to our kids from a young age.”
If we don’t cook from scratch then we rely on prepared foods, but we all know that processed food is making our kids less healthy than kids a generation ago – our generation.
If we give our kids the responsibility to prepare meals, we’ll all eat better and we will all have gained a new independence not to mention the satisfaction that comes with self-sufficiency.