I’ve been really sick of dinner for some time now. I’m tired of eating the same old stuff and even more tired of cooking the same old stuff. It’s been more than just a rut. It’s been more like a total loss of desire. I’ve pulled out cookbooks and gone to the computer looking for inspiration but still feel bored. I’m not going to go too far out on a limb in the creativity area. I don’t have that the time with three kids to be overly fancy. I tend to avoid recipes that have a laundry list of ingredients. Short attention span maybe??? Besides, since I’m cooking for kids, I need to keep things fairly simple and recognizable for their sake. There’s nothing worse than cooking meal at the end of a long day and then sitting across the table from a wrinkled up nose.
One night, I made an off the cuff remark that the kids could plan dinner. I said it with the sentiment of a punishment in mind. I guess that’s how I’ve been feeling about the kitchen lately.
To my surprise I was met with excitement.
I quickly changed the tone of my voice and continued on with the thought as if it was some grand new scheme of mine. (I meant to do that the whole time).
So we started to talk about what things made a healthy meal. We discussed what the different food groups were and what things sounded like they would be good together. The girls (7 & 5) came up with a quick list of some of their favorite things and I pulled out paper and a pen. I had each of the girls come up with a plan for one dinner and they each picked a night that they would be the chef.
The next day I made a trip to the grocery store and that evening we started our cooking team. For two nights I had a little helper making dinner with me. We talked about cooking terms and how to time things to be finished at the same time. They were so interested in seasoning and how flavors came together. They were slightly intimidated with the stove and some of the sounds of food cooking at first. A little talk about safety and their confidence bloomed in front of me.
After the first week I thought I would continue as long as they showed an interest. I don’t want it to become something that they are not enjoying. Although it started as a threat or an intended punishment, I want them to be excited about cooking. It’s not like they have never helped before but now the planning and the scheduling of it has giving them so much more ownership. I can’t believe how they look forward to their night.
I new it was a hit when my second grader got off the bus and before she was half way up to the house she wanted to know who’s turn it was to cook that night. When I said it was her night the response was “YES” with a cute little dance move.
The change was more than I could have expected. We’re several weeks into it and they are still excited to cook and they are very complimentary of each other’s skills. Sometimes they like what the other has made so much that that becomes part of their choice for the following week. Sunday afternoons have turned into a planning meeting for the week to come as they pick their dishes and what day will be their turn in the kitchen. The best part for me is the special one on one time I get with them to do what was becoming mundane and tedious for me. Our little man (2 ½) has even gotten into the game. His job is to sprinkle cheese on our Friday night pizza and set the timer. He is thrilled with himself for being such a big boy and cooking like his sisters.
So what do you do to keep from getting boarded with your daily routines?
Do you have any fun ideas to make cooking more interesting?
What’s for dinner tonight?