“Every kid in every school, no matter their background, deserves to learn the basics about food —where it comes from, how to cook it, and how it affects their bodies. These life skills are as important as reading and writing, but they’ve been lost over the past few generations.”Jamie Oliver
First . . . FINGER PAINT!
Perhaps the most common misconception about cooking with kids is that you have to MAKE something; a cake, a roast, a salad, cookies. But we must remember that the vocation of cooking is formally know as culinary arts. Therefore, I believe we should approach cooking with our kids similarly to how we approach any other artistic medium. Just as we don’t expect our kids to paint their self-portrait at their first art lesson, sculpt a Grecian urn their first day of pottery, or play a concerto their first day of piano . . . neither should we expect our child to make, or even assist us effectively in making, a soufflé the first day of culinary Skill School.
Our kids may need days, weeks, or even a year or more of “finger painting” (if you will) before they can move on to more refined tasks. All this to say, our focus in culinary Skill School with our kids should be the process rather than the product. And our purpose should not be clouded by an alternative motive such as prepping dinner early or knocking out that bake-sale item. Of course, if our kids are older and/or experienced helping in the kitchen, then by all means . . . let’s make those muffins or crank out dinner with our little sous chef(s)! But otherwise, let’s start with the basics, the pre-requisites; the finger paints of the cooking world.
Now, before we roll up our sleeves and get cookin’, let’s talk a little bit about waste. Because there’s gonna be some. Sometimes an egg will end up cracked on the floor. Sometimes a potato will get peeled down to nearly . . . nubbin. Sometimes, no . . . almost always . . . the bread flour will become air-borne and the kitchen forecast will be snow with a chance of scattered gluten. It’s ok. And I’m speaking to myself as much as anyone here. I get stressed too! I hate mess. And I despise waste . . . especially when that waste is in the form of time, money, or food. And in the kitchen, waste often feels like all three of these.
It feels this way . . . but it’s not by comparison. We must never forget: cooking is art!
Don’t we buy paints for our kids? And do we freak out when they use up all the blue in one sitting? Or do we applaud their creativity? Don’t we buy them Play-Doh and then watch as the rainbow of colors wage war on each other —ultimately becoming one lump of truly ghastly greenish brown? Do we throw up our hands in frustrations and yell about . . . waste? Or do we buy new, fresh, vibrantly-colored Play-Doh? And here’s something to put in our pipes and puff on a while: what costs more anyway. . . a box of Play-Doh or a cup or two of flour? How about a new paint palette or an egg, lemon, or potato? A mosaic kit or some rice and beans? You get the point.
We are terrified of food waste —let’s all just go ahead and blame Grandma Dorothy right here and now— and yet we allow and indulge our children in far more costly forms of waste, such as mountains of toys and craft supplies that we treat as nearly disposable. But we don’t allow them to help us rinse the peas or scramble the eggs! So, no. I don’t see our kids helping us in the kitchen as inviting waste. In fact, I believe it to be quite the reverse!
Cooking with kids is quite a worthy investment; one in which the dividends are truly invaluable.
Cooking with kids is an investment in:
- our kids’ eating habits
- our kids’ future ability to feed themselves (both thriftily and healthily)
- ourselves for giving our family a future sous chef, or even head chef as time goes on . . .
- our children’s self-worth and self-esteem
- our kids’ overall hand skills
- our environment (people who cook produce a lot less waste than those who routinely order take-out or purchase convenience meals)
- our families (a family that cooks together eats together; a family that eats together laughs together; a family that laughs together stays together)
So let’s do our kids a huge favor and not cry (or yell) over that spilled milk, cracked egg, or bread flour dust storm. (But let’s do make them help us clean it up. After all, isn’t that how most of us finally learned to stop making messes?) In short, we will never regret letting our child peel that carrot, wash those peas, or whip up that cake batter with us . . . no matter how much of it is “wasted.”
For a little “waste” gifted to a child in the kitchen will become the very ingredients that give rise to capable hands and confident spirit.
YOU’RE INVITED . . .
Yes, YOU! Join us for:
Skill School Week 2: COOKING
Bon appitreat! From the aprons, to the chubby fingers at work, to the focused little faces, to the licking of spoons . . . Cooking with kids is just about my favorite thing in the world!
- Day One: VEG OUT! (wash, peel, chop, zest, and juice!)
- Day Two: MEAUSRE UP! (in cups, spoons, and on a scale)
- Day Three: Let’s get CRACKIN! (eggs three ways)
- Day Four: BEAT IT! (tinkering with kitchen tools /appliances)
- Day Five: BON APPITREAT! (something sweet to end the week)
SUPPLY LIST (per child, or rotating):
*If you don’t have an item on this list, it’s ok! You can still join us for cooking week! Sometimes you will be able to make do without the item, and sometimes you may need to simply skip an activity and move on to the next.
- kitchen basics (mixing bowls, wooden spoons, measuring cups + spoons, etc.)
- child-sized & safe vegetable peeler
- child-sized cleaver or “crinkle cutter”
- lemon zester
- lemon juicer
- kitchen scales
- ingredients: carrots, celery, eggs, rice, fresh herbs
- various kitchen tools/appliances (hand mixer, stand mixer, can opener, whisk, etc.)
Need a BOOK to go with Cooking Week?
This week’s Skill School pairs perfectly with the following books:
~FOR TOTS (ages 1 to 3)~
~FOR LITTLES (Ages 3 to 6)~
~FOR MIDDLES (ages 6-8)~
~FOR BIGS (ages 8+)~
Want a PLAYLIST to set the cooking mood?
Cook up some culinary ambiance with our Bon Appetit Cooking Music Playlist!
Want a MOVIE NIGHT to cap off the Skill School week?
The only thing better than family movie night is a themed family movie night to commemorate the events of the week.
This movie (which happens to be my personal Pixar favorite) pairs perfectly with Cooking Week:
Cheers to a Skill-Filled Summer!
Thanks ever so much for reading!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~