General chatter - Teaching our kids to cook

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03-30-2010, 04:04 PM
Hi guys,
One of the thread's in Jamie Oliver's changes is that kids should be able to prepare some meals before graduating high school. I was thinking about my own kids and realized that they can make a few things, spaghetti with jarred sauce, quesadillas, umm, oatmeal. So I guess I am failing my own kids....They're busy, I'm busy, but that is no excuse.

I thought it might be fun to start a thread about teaching our kids to cook. Kids of all ages. Simple, easy, quick, healthy things. We could share ideas, and I might be accountable to actually make that happen. Kids want to learn; we (I!) just need to take the time to teach. I posit that even a semi-healthy/unhealthy meal at home out of real food is healthier than convenience food/fast food/most restaurant food.

And if any of you are beginning cooks who are learning as you go, please jump right in!

So for tonight, I think we'll make grilled hamburgers (lean sirloin), steamed veggies, and baked potatoes. DS (15 yo) knows how to grill (maybe I don't suck as a mom after all!) and I'll show the little ones how to scrub potatoes, poke holes in them, and pop them into the microwave. Baby steps, baby steps. No time to bake the potatoes in the oven tonight, but it's better than opening a bag of chips.

03-30-2010, 04:25 PM
My mom started me cooking when I was 8 or so, I'd always help her cook and bake. When I went into high school, I cooked dinner every night. At first, I needed some guidance but basically was either given a recipe and directions as well as access to the ingredients and told to make dinner.

03-30-2010, 04:43 PM
I feel the same way. For a very long time I have been doing it myself and making my son get out of the kitchen or just doing somthing quick like *gasp* boxed mac-n-cheese. I'm beginning to let him do stuff, mix, pour, stir - he's 9 now.

03-30-2010, 05:04 PM
Mine is 6. She's been helping to bake, make cold things like salad, smoothies, etc. She can peel vegetables, pour cereal and milk, assembly sandwiches. But I haven't introduced a sharp knife yet. (And all of this stuff is clearly made and plated by a child -- all leany, weird, messy, etc.)

I think she helped assembly a crock pot soup once.

And do rice in the rice cooker.

But she's not allowed near the stove/oven so for now it's all cold or small appliance helping.

So even the very smallest can lend a hand SOMEWHERE.


03-30-2010, 08:58 PM
i remember having a little kids cook book when i was very young- like 5 or 6 and there were a lot of ideas for "cooking" most of which involved little to no adult referreeing or chopping.

also- just a quick note on the baked potatoes- i microwave them til they're done then rub with a bit of olive oil and kosher salt and toss them in the oven at like 425 degrees for a few minutes- the skins get nice and krispy & no one has to know they were microwave taters. :)

i think teaching kids to cook is so important. not only will it teach them what REAL FOOD is, it can also teach them the importance of healthy eating and encourage them to eat better in the future.

Lab Rat
03-30-2010, 09:31 PM
I learned to cook around middle school...really simple things like cake mixes, prepackaged dinners where you just mix the stuff together in a pan pretty much. Then it just got more complex as I got more confident in the kitchen and I have to say it's definitely a skill I'm glad I learned. When I make meals for friends who come over, and hearing them rave about how great it tastes is a great confidence booster when I'm down. Great for girlfriends too ;) I haven't dated a girl yet who hasn't been impressed at my level of cooking skill considering I have no professional training hehe. It's definitely something I want to teach my kids (if I ever have any). I'd hate to seem them living off high salt meals like canned food or tv dinners, or always expecting their wife/husband to do all the cooking.

03-30-2010, 10:56 PM
I let my four year do whatever she can in the kitchen - pour, stir, measure (sort of), taste, etc.

When she was two, we started growing strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, banana peppers, and several kinds of herbs. I know NOTHING about growing vegetables but those are pretty easy to grow in containers. She's very excited to eat things with "her" produce in them and has a lot of ideas about what we should grow in our "real garden." If only Mommy knew anything about real gardening.

03-31-2010, 12:44 AM
I started helping my mom in the kitchen from as young as I can remember. Stirring, pouring, mixing etc. By the time I was 12 I could make several dinners from scratch. I was a cooking a full dinner one night a week by the time I was 14.

I'm by the time I graduated high school I was making dinner at least 2 nights a week. I'm glad I learned to cook, it's helped me alot over the years. I'm a better cook than most of my friends, and I'm willing to experiment with new foods. There's very little that I won't try to make at least once. It's helped with my weight loss and general well being and become a very expensive hobby.

03-31-2010, 12:54 AM
Just expand the container to a raised bed and check out square foot gardening methods. :)


03-31-2010, 01:38 AM
I cooked from when I was a child. My grandma got me joffy cake mixes and frosting and those small size bundt cake pans. And that kids cookbook. I just sent one of those for my granddaughters (ages 3 & 5) this past Christmas. I remember making food from that cookbook lots of times and feeling really proud of myself. I keep forgetting to ask, but I'm sure my son, the chef, is teaching his girls to prepare food, prolly years beyond ther abilities!


03-31-2010, 01:55 AM
I've always worked shift so my kids have been able to assemble (something like) supper since they were old enough to not need a sitter. They're 23, 26 and 28 now and can all cook pretty well. And they don't mind doing it.

03-31-2010, 11:24 AM
It sounds like kids can really rise to the occasion.

Dinner last night was great and went very smoothly. Tonight I have a work meeting, so it will need to be something quick. I'll ponder the choices, but will definitely involve them in the cooking piece. It sounds like the older ones could really be responsible for a meal 1 or 2 nights a week.

I like the idea of the little veggie plants too.