The old nursery rhyme comes to me when I think about my daughters doing the cooking. They especially like to make the packets of noodles or rice with sauce that you can do in the microwave. I guess the first thing that tapped their interest in cooking was last year when Josie had ‘consumer’s ed.’ (what I used to call home ec.) in seventh grade. Although her class only spent part of its time cooking, she started showing a greater interest in our meals. Of course, what big sister does, little sister wants to do, too.
Planning menus for just my husband and myself used to be fun. Later, when highchairs rounded out our supper table, our babies happily accepted all the baby food we offered – veggies and all. When they outgrew the little glass jars, the girls still sampled most of the things we ate. Just the scooping, lifting, and feeling of foods was an adventure to our new, little eaters.
How things have changed! Each year our food horizons are becoming more and more limited to the same few dishes that the kids will eat without complaining. “Mom and Dad” are missing out on the variety of things we love – much that would be healthier than what we are eating.
I have tried to include the girls in our meal preparation ever since they were small. I let them help stir things, make packaged mixes, and bake cookies – all things that were quick and easy. I set a pretty tight limit on what I would let them do to avoid mistakes and messes. The problem is, I’m not a very patient adviser. When you are cooking after a full day of other activities, you just want to get something to eat on the table – fast. It’s a pity. This is a perfect opportunity to help the kids learn to cook, and the timing is wrong.
Mark has suggested many times that I should let our girls help fix the meals more often. “Maybe if they see what goes into casserole-type dishes with the mixtures of foods, they would be more willing to try them,” he hopes. It does seem to help. Our nine-year-old, who is the vegetable and fruit eater of our two kids, has a more open mind to tasting new foods than her older sister. She and her dad have fun making mixtures from a variety of cans. Then the table is turned! I look at their concoctions with suspicion and call them “slumgullion.”
It’s tough for us adults to eat what is good for us so it’s not surprising that our kids get in a rut with their favorite foods.
Kids love to be praised for doing a job and fixing even a small part of the meal is a great way to build self esteem and gives the family something to talk about. “Guess who made supper, tonight?” is spoken with pride and smiles. We need to try harder to cook with our kids and help them learn to make healthy, homemade foods.