Turning mealtime into an opportunity to cook as a family is a great way to spend time together. Getting the kids involved can also give them a little appreciation of the “chore” while starting to teach them a skill they can use for the rest of their lives.
But in order for everyone to look forward to it, cooking as a family has to be enjoyable.
1. Keep It Simple
When cooking with younger children in the family, instead of picking meals that require a lot of ingredients, prep, or appliances, such as food processors, break out the vintage cooking tools and get them involved as much as possible.
2. Experience International Cuisine
Once they are a little older, make it a once-a-week event that you explore cuisine from around the world. Whether you try to recreate the meal you had at a Slovenian-American Restaurant on date night a few weeks ago or you search around online for Asian recipes, take the opportunity to get away from your normal dinner choices.
3. Keep Everyone Involved
Get the kids to help with the entire cooking process. From planning out the meal and picking out the ingredients to warming up the griddle skillet when you have breakfast for dinner, let them help with anything and everything they can safely do.
4. Do Some Prep Beforehand
Along with the first cooking tip, if there is a bit of prep to do for a meal everyone is adamant about making that night, don’t be afraid to do a little bit before starting the family time. If you’re making stir fry, it’s not cheating to have the chicken and vegetables diced and ready to go in the pan.
5. Take a Poll
Unfortunately, your kid’s taste in food is likely to change quite often. Something they “loved” just a few months ago now results in a grimace when it’s on their plate. While you might have a craving for something on your Rome food bucket list, if it isn’t something they are interested in eating, they aren’t going to enjoy making it. Ask everyone to write down their top five favorite meals and the ones they just can’t stand and go from there.
Put the top choices in a hat, and when it’s time to cook together, keep tip three in mind and have one of them reach in and select what’s for dinner.
6. Make it Family Time
Eliminate distractions and have everyone leave their mobile devices, tablets, and other electronics in another room. Take away temptation and turn off the TV as well, even if it’s in another room. This will enhance the quality of time together and help spur more conversation.
7. Don’t Get in a Rush
Remember one main thing — the experience is more important than the end product. Whereas it usually would take you no time at all to measure out 2/3 cup of flour or rice, plan a little extra time to prepare and cook the meal and let the kids go at their own pace.
Meal prepping and cooking can be a cherished tradition for everyone when planned out correctly. As long as everyone is included and their likes and dislikes are considered, the time is planned out, you assign age-appropriate tasks, and you try to make it as fun as possible, it’s something that they’ll look forward to, remember, and appreciate for the rest of their lives.
On that note, don’t be afraid to experiment! Your kids will appreciate cooking a variety of meals that are not only different but also delicious.