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Nurturing a Love of Food

Jan 25, 2012

by Caleb Gardner

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As part of my big Life List project, I recently started really learning how to cook. My wife has traditionally been the master of the kitchen in our family. I’ve contributed a meal here and there (mostly of the frozen pizza variety), but if it took me longer to make it than to eat it, I usually abstained.

Caroline didn’t always regularly cook for us, but when our son came along, she began feeling the traditional obligation to be the one who provides good meals for the family. It really amazed me how easily she fell into this role, considering that I tried my best to not be a source of pressure for her to do so. But the roles from our families of origin and the traditional models that we grew up with in the media provided more than enough incentive. Plus she was good at it.

So far I’ve taken full advantage of her stepping into that role, given my lack of skill, and if I’m honest, desire to help. Part of this I think had to do with the household I grew up in. Not only did it conform to normative gender stereotypes, but my parents didn’t put a high value on food as a pleasurable pursuit. Eating was for nourishment alone. Cooking was a means to an end.

What has helped change that paradigm for me is having a few foodie friends who have really opened my eyes to how enjoyable food can be. Not only have they significantly broadened my palate, but they’ve turned me on to enjoying the process of making it. I’ve discovered it can actually be a stress reliever, instead of just a source of stress.

As I’m having my eyes opened to the joys of cooking and eating well, I’ve realized that I want to make that the norm in our family. In our day-to-day lives, I want us all to participate in the process. It may be a lot to ask some days, but I think it’s important to do it together. I want to pass along to our son the importance of eating well as a pleasure in itself — not just to break gender stereotypes, not just to pass along the necessary cooking skills, but to set it up as part of a life well-lived.

As our family is making this shift, I’d love to hear how other people make this work. I know there are some foodies out there. Who does the cooking in your household? Are you intentional about bringing your kids into the process? How are you teaching them to love food?

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3 Featured Comments

  • PoleStar

    PoleStar said 4 years ago Featured

    My son, Evan and I started cooking together every Wednesday night and it is really special. We pick out a recipe a few days before from a kids cookbook I bought. He always tries and eats a lot of foods on those nights that he otherwise might not have tried. I think this is because he can see the value and love that goes into providing nourishment for the ones we love. Once we had to put off cooking dinner unexpectedly and he burst into tears. It's something we look forward to every week. I am excited that he will be a wiz in the kitchen at this rate. He is seven years old which I think is a great age for both of us, he can pay attention and show care around the kitchen with my supervision. I encourage everyone to try to schedule this special time with their kids, at least one meal a week, be it dinner, lunch, or breakfast.

  • ilovesmallbites

    ilovesmallbites said 4 years ago Featured

    This is awesome. As a chef, I totally agree with you. I believe that kids become less picky with their food when they know how it's prepared, and get involved. I love the idea of cooking with your kids, and nurturing a love of food. Nice article.

  • butternutbabydesigns

    butternutbabydesigns said 4 years ago Featured

    When I had my first child, I felt the same obligation to start cooking! My parents didn't really cook much and I wanted to start this tradition with my family. When it's time to make supper, I put my baby boy in his high chair and pull it up close to the ktchen counter where he can see what I'm doing. I turn on on some Jazz music to create ambiance and start experimenting with different vegetables and spices. I try not to follow recipes and use up whatever is in my fridge. I really hope my son will remember this and appreciate it later on when he's older..

73 comments

  • gwenmccullough

    gwenmccullough said 4 years ago

    Cooking with the grandchildren can be fun. When I have my grandson for the day- he's 6, we often make Rock buns and we make approx 12 buns. when it's time to go home, he insists on taking home half the number of buns made. When his 4 year old sister comes for the day and we bake, she's quite happy to take one each for her Mum, Mum's boyfriend, her brother and herself. Not quite as crafty as her brother yet!

  • volkerwandering

    volkerwandering said 4 years ago

    When I was little, maybe 8 or 9, I used to play a game with my mother called "Breakfast in Bed". I would type out a "menu" on our computer, print it out, draw pictures on it, put on an apron, and go wake up my mom. After taking her order, I would go downstairs, prepare her breakfast, set it on a tray and take it up to her. For some reason, this playing grown up was really fun, challenging, and got me thinking creatively.

  • gardenmis

    gardenmis said 4 years ago

    I was blessed growing up in a family that has a long line of good cooks + that includes the men-folk! My mother gardened with us at her heels + we gathered nuts + berries from the woods and she taught us as much as she could. I in turn have tried to do the same with my children and as a result, they all enjoying eating good food. Just start when they are young. Peruse cookbooks together, learn a little bit about where the food comes from, let them have a voice in meal decisions. And for me personally nothing beats chopping bright, crisp veggies for a good stir fry when you've had a stressful day!

  • funktionslust

    funktionslust said 4 years ago

    I'm a single girl and my memories of my mother and I in the kitchen are of her shoo-ing me out of it. She found cooking stressful and didn't appreciate me hanging around. I often wish that she had taken the time to include me in the kitchen as now I find myself at the age of 38 struggling to put meals together, and wishing I had a drawer or book full of traditional family recipes I could whip up...if I ever get the hang of cooking, and if I ever have children, I will definitely include them so they have a legacy of edible memories....

  • blueeyedartist

    blueeyedartist said 4 years ago

    When I was growing up I was never really taught how to cook, but both of my parents are extremely good home cooks. Unfortunately, their delicious dinners led me to being an overweight child. It was a very rare occasion that we ate "fast food" but because of my lack of knowledge about food, I didn't know when to stop eating. Since leaving my parents and setting out on my own, I've gone through years of microwave meals and leftover pizza hut food (where I worked through college) Only when I made the decision to become a vegetarian did I realize my full potential behind cooking and the vast variety of healthy food out there. I was forced to face cooking and healthy eating habits head-on, as it is almost impossible to be a vegetarian and live off of boxed meals. I'm 24 and I've finally realized how important it is to take care of my body and pay attention to what I'm putting in it. I can't help but wonder if my parents had instilled this in me as a child that maybe I wouldn't have had to go through such a long process to come to this conclusion. But on the plus side, now I can help my parents realize what they are eating and how it affects their bodies and the people around them. I believe healthy eating habits and nutritional information is vital to anybody who wants to live a long and happy life. I sincerely hope that in the future children will be given (more!) knowledge to make healthier decisions throughout their lives.

  • PoleStar

    PoleStar said 4 years ago Featured

    My son, Evan and I started cooking together every Wednesday night and it is really special. We pick out a recipe a few days before from a kids cookbook I bought. He always tries and eats a lot of foods on those nights that he otherwise might not have tried. I think this is because he can see the value and love that goes into providing nourishment for the ones we love. Once we had to put off cooking dinner unexpectedly and he burst into tears. It's something we look forward to every week. I am excited that he will be a wiz in the kitchen at this rate. He is seven years old which I think is a great age for both of us, he can pay attention and show care around the kitchen with my supervision. I encourage everyone to try to schedule this special time with their kids, at least one meal a week, be it dinner, lunch, or breakfast.

  • VoleedeMoineaux

    VoleedeMoineaux said 4 years ago

    I love frozen pizza!

  • scarletbegonia11

    scarletbegonia11 said 4 years ago

    I grew up always participating in cooking with my family. Thanksgiving everyone picked something to make and we still do. I also cooked dinner for my family a few nights a week since I was in junior high. As an adult I am very thankful for this because I know how to cook and know what real food is! I'm very lucky, I have recently realized many people grew up houses where their mothers would heat up frozen peas in the microwave for dinner. I think it is the first step in educating children where their food comes from and how it gets there.

  • lime914

    lime914 said 4 years ago

    When my nephews and neice help cook they will usually do chopping or washing the vegetables (even if they don't always want to). I think when they are more involved they will be more likely to try something new. We also always make sure to acknowledge everyone's role in dinner and thank them for it. Rather than the old "thank your mother!" I also think as they get older they will be better prepared for making their own meals having been around it more.

  • jammerjewelry

    jammerjewelry said 4 years ago

    Cool article thanks for sharing.

  • HibouCards

    HibouCards said 4 years ago

    I grew up in France where I was lucky to have a mom who invested a lot of time and effort in making good healthy balanced meals for us. At lunch we'd often have an appetizer (veggies in vinaigrette), meat or fish with veggies, cheese and or dessert (fruits or yogurt, or chocolate something for me). At night it would often be soup, salad and cheese. Beyond our French culture of enjoying food I think it really is my mother who influenced the way I eat today... Not eating between meals, eating bit of everything, taking my time to cook and eat with my family. So In turns it shapes the way I handle cooking and meals at home with my husband and son. I do most of the cooking and I make a lot of the everyday cooking my mom used to make. I really want to pass that on to my son... the joy of eating good tasty food, taking meals together, taking our time eating, savoring our meals, table manners... I am also fortunate to have a foodie husband who enjoys my French cooking and stinky cheese! He helps out by prepping sometimes and enjoys to cook a meal every once in a while. Hopefully our ways will influence our son in his grown up years :) thanks for always starting up such great topics!

  • ZenBrush

    ZenBrush said 4 years ago

    I loved playing restaurant when i was a kid, still do and still a kid!

  • TheMillineryShop

    TheMillineryShop said 4 years ago

    My mom was a Home Economics teacher with a specialty in foods. My meals were always yummy and balanced. I learned how to cook when i got married and still love to be in the kitchen brewing up a meal. My son texts me for recipes. Everyone can cook.

  • rivahside

    rivahside said 4 years ago

    We're super traditional in my family. For all of my married life I have been a stay-at-home so I am perfectly content (and willing) to cook. I do think it's wonderful to involve everyone in the process, though, as long as your kitchen is large enough! However, as an American, I do think we cook as a means to an end, as you say, rather than stopping to enjoy the process and savor the food that we cook.

  • lizivita

    lizivita said 4 years ago

    I plant a garden every year that has interesting vegetables in it. I try to plant a few varieties that I know my kids don't hate. I also plant flowers out there so they are attracted to the garden like bees. Then, they start poking around looking for berries, or a just right tomato and before you know it, they are loving vegetables. My kids like to try to think of new recipes to use the vegetables in. I let them make lots of salads and other things to share with the family.

  • MootiDesigns

    MootiDesigns said 4 years ago

    I can't seem to destress when I cook. It does the opposite effect. I'm really stressed when I cook; I want to eat NOW.....So forget Thanksgiving at my house! :)

  • FawnSpots

    FawnSpots said 4 years ago

    Awesome! Although these days typical gender roles are being challenged in all areas of our lives, I think it's still kind of instinctual for women, especially with children, to fall into the role of the "housewife". It's in our blood to want to care for our loved ones, especially once children are introduced to the picture. Good for you for wanting to get more involved in cooking! Not only will it help out more, but I'm sure you're going to love discovering new foods and recipes!! :)

  • jibbyandjuna

    jibbyandjuna said 4 years ago

    In our house the thought is "if you eat you should know how to cook". But my husband and I both really like to cook and see it as another avenue of creativity so I think our example probably speaks louder than our words.

  • FawnSpots

    FawnSpots said 4 years ago

    Also, just a side note: in my family, I always remember my father doing most of the cooking. I'm sure my mom did a lot of it as well, but for dinner, my father always cooked. Now, with his new wife and their 6 year old son, he still does most of the cooking and the grocery shopping! Definitely not your traditional roles!

  • christa02

    christa02 said 4 years ago

    Mu daughter is 3 and since she was about 18 months she has been helping me cook. We pull up a chair and she measures, pours, and helps count. Now that I have a 5 month old we put him in the wrap so he can "help" too. She also helps me mash his fruits and veg for baby food. I give things funny names, like carrots are horse food or unicorn horns. She loves carrots and hummus and avocados. If I want her to try a new dish I might tell her that Elmo's mom gave me the recipe. I do my best to hide grated carrots or pureed veg in meatloaf, etc so no one but me knows how nutritious it is for them. We try to have fun in the kitchen, even if it's just Lilly and I listening to music while she stands next to me on a chair and watches me cook. My mom never let me cook and when I left for college I had no idea. I was scared to try anything. I don't want my children to feel the same way. Sometimes it gets messy but I tell my daughter that cleaning is part of cooking and we do it together.

  • JKistlerStudios

    JKistlerStudios said 4 years ago

    Great post! It is hard to get my kids in the kitchen when I don't want to be there myself. I love to eat tasty food, and eating healthy is very very important to me. Those two things, plus the savings of cooking from scratch, are what keep me going! I don't know if I'll ever really enjoy cooking, but one of my sons seems to think it's interesting so I know I need to nurture that. (plus it's a basic life skill) Maybe someday he'll be cooking for me! (and then he'll move out... oh, well! LOL) Now I think I would like to get my kids involved with making a meal every weekend as a special activity. That would seem do-able to me. Thanks for the motivation!

  • lapolleria

    lapolleria said 4 years ago

    I come from foodie families on both sides and I love it! I joke that, being half Spanish and half American, I eat a Spanish lunch (nice and copious) and an American dinner (the heavy meal of the day). Even at our busiest my husband and I have made time to have something yummy for dinner, not complicated, just yummy and satisfying. All it takes is a little planning and some staples. I'm having a hard time adapting my cooking style to my 15-month old's tatses, but I'm also having fun experimenting and seeing the faces he makes when he tries something new. I'm starting him out by letting him help me "make soup" in the kitchen while I cook. I give him a big plastic bowl, a nice wooden stirring spoon and we pick out all sorts of crazy ingredients (non-fragile fruits and veggies, big refrigerator magnets, ping pong balls...). Then he stirs and shakes away, pretending to try it every once in a while and trying to get me to taste it too. I know this is just the beginning and that next Xmas I'll help him bake his first cookies and we'll keep making happy kitchen memories together. That where some of my favorite memories have been made on either side of the Atlantic with cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents. You don't have to be a great cook, just meke it with love and it should turn out de-lish... my dad's specialty is a tuna and jalapeño sandwich (no one makes it better), and let's not forget how creative he gets with a pack of Ramen noodles. Bon Appetit everyone.

  • VintageChinchilla

    VintageChinchilla said 4 years ago

    I am currently pregnant with my first child, and have big plans to foster a love of whole, healthy foods in him or her! Working on it already by eating a little bit of each flavor under the sun! :)

  • SoulSisterSoaps

    SoulSisterSoaps said 4 years ago

    About 10 years ago, I was shocked when my husband said (after a meal that I had prepared) that he would rather take a pill that was nutricious and filled him up than bother eating. He was bored! I realised that the meat/starch/veggie combo didn't cut it anymore. That began our journey as a family to cooking from scratch, growing as much food as we could in our backyard, having chickens in the city, reading and absorbing Foodie culture, and becoming fully invested in our meals. Up to recently, friends would comment on no time making meals from scratch... but they always want to come for dinner. ;)

  • Iknitoo

    Iknitoo said 4 years ago

    I cook because I like to eat good food and cannot afford to go to high end restaurants. My husband does the dishes. It works for us. If I am not home, he will cook very simple meals. We raised a son and a daughter to love and eat good, nutritious, varied meals and to cook them as well. They are grown with their own children and both cook wonderful meals. I learned so much about food studying macrobiotics and the food of other cultures. It is amazing how creative one can be with simple ingredients prepared properly and eaten with intention and reverence. Most of our meals are non meat meals but occasionally we have buffalo burgers and organic chicken. The idea is to eat small amounts of protein and truly devour the "greens". Thank you Caleb for your ever inspiring words. I am a huge fan.

  • WhimsicalWolfDesigns

    WhimsicalWolfDesigns said 4 years ago

    I don't have any children yet, but when I was young, my mom was away a lot, and I ended up having to cook a lot for my dad and I. I enjoyed cooking though, and helped when my mom was home, doing simple things like peeling potatoes for mashed potatoes, and shucking the corn and getting every bit of "silk" off the cob. Every New Years my mom and I also made pierogies from scratch. We still do. I am now married and love cooking with my husband. We both have rich ethnic backgrounds and I try to learn as many traditional Hungarian dishes from his Mom that I can. As far as including your children goes, try starting a small garden. My Sis in Law has three kids, and last year they planted a garden full of tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs. She had the kids draw and color in tags for each plant, and they were able to just go out back and pick some fresh basil for pesto, or tomatoes for salad. The good things is for at least herbs, you don't need a lot of space.... they can be put in pots. This way the kids see the whole process from planting the seed, nurturing it while it is growing, picking it and getting to know it's unique flavor, and then understanding the flavor it gives to the finished meal.

  • pinksnakejewelry

    pinksnakejewelry said 4 years ago

    We all love to Eat in my family....My husband is the better cook and enjoys making the big Holiday meals as well as the Summertime BBQ's. We like to experiment as well with different cuisines( Italian, Mexican , Greek , French) I love to bake, though seldom have time, but when I do my two youngest enjoy helping- especially cookies and muffins! Our eldest Adores cooking and watches all types of Cooking Shows- thus the added lbs. from desserts this holiday season!!!! Food, cooking ,shopping for the food, experimenting, tasting ,enjoying one another's company around the table- its all good family togetherness!

  • ArchetypalTheatre

    ArchetypalTheatre said 4 years ago

    I am a very busy single mom to a 2 year, but we make homemade food a priority. I've noticed that my little one gets much more excited about eating something new and nutritious if she has watched me cooking it and helped out in an age appropriate way, like stirring or pouring. Her little play kitchen is right next to my big one, so we 'cook' together every day. She has made me (and all of her dolls) some very imaginative, play food meals in there =)

  • vynsimplicity

    vynsimplicity said 4 years ago

    365 different ways to cook chicken is not my idea of fun. My daughter comments regularly .. Chicken again! OF course, since our kids were little we always called what ever meat like food they were eating "chicken" . Eat your Chicken love (even though it was ribs) is what you could hear from the dinner table. For some reason if you mentioned the porc word, tears would fill their eye's "a piggy Mom? " no dear just chicken, it's okay. Beef? is that a pretty cow?.. no dear it is just Chicken, don't worry. All was well until my daughter met a friend in school who's parents owned a chicken farm .. have you ever seen a baby chick? how can a girl resist it's magical cuteness ! Our kids love to chop and stir, bake and eat .. we are just not alway's truthful about what is actually in it! LOL

  • mcdowallmandy

    mcdowallmandy said 4 years ago

    My hubby? A foodie. Having worked in upscale restaurants all through college. Me? A foodie. I 'escape' our circus of a 3 children household a few times a week to help run an awesome little hotspot in Geneva, IL. WE LOVE FOOD. But not in the 'market day' feel of our youth...preparing meals turns into a family venture with input from babes about 'what sounds good today' and an inventory of what we have on hand. A huge part of our success in getting our babes on board to eat such crazy vegetables or fruits such as brussel sprouts, rutabagas, collards, Swiss chard, kiwi, etc. This has been all in the education of our local market (read this:Meijer). From the time they were small, we let our twin boys pick out one 'cool-looking/tasty' vegetable or fruit from each shopping trip. Over the years, we have come home with an assortment of craziness, that we try to incorporate into a tasty meal with a paired protein. If you make cooking fun, then half the battle is won.

  • looploft

    looploft said 4 years ago

    i began to realize that we did a pretty good job in the 'meal' category when our oldest daughter (now almost 21) moved away to school and mentioned that the PANS her room mate had willingly contributed to the kitchen were not adequate for REAL cooking :) when she comes home for a break...we spend 1/2 of the visit eating out at her favorite restaurants + 1/2 of the time cooking family meals together...good times :) second in line wants to study baking + pastry along with a business degree! enjoy these teaching times...these small children become adults before you know it!

  • glusk

    glusk said 4 years ago

    I taught my husband the basics of how to cook and he has gone on from there to really shine in the kitchen. Cooking at home is very much a part of our lives and I imagine that when little ones come along they'll be cooking up a storm too.

  • caseysharpe

    caseysharpe said 4 years ago

    My mother always let us help her make cookies (and lick the beaters, and the bowls, and the spoons afterwards). When I was in high school and college, she turned Christmas cookie duties over to me, and I had a lot of fun choosing what to make. She'd tell me "I need nine tins of cookies" and I'd bake all day (and eat my way through too)! It wasn't until I was in college that I actually learned to cook real food though, and much of that was through trial and error. I'm still learning, and I don't cook every night- a lot of nights at my place we scavenge, or sometimes my boyfriend cooks, but we're getting better at it all the time. (He's learning to use seasonings! It's like a whole new world of flavor!)

  • elleestpetite

    elleestpetite said 4 years ago

    It's amazing how much I love cooking nowadays, considering the fact that my mother never allowed me to help much in the kitchen while growing up. I find it to be a very relaxing activity.

  • vonderschonenrapunze

    vonderschonenrapunze said 4 years ago

    like any single parent the responsibility rests solely on our shoulders to create an environment for good eating choices that our children can learn from. when my daughter was four we would make chicken pot pies from scratch, including the crust. she would pick and choose which veggies she wanted with her chicken and would use a winnie the pooh cookie cutter to cut a piece of dough to mark it as hers. as she got older we would make veggie pizzas together or chicken and pineapple pizzas where she would place the chicken and pineapple to make it look like a lion's face (that was always a must). there are so many stories oh her and i, together, in the kitchen. or her making me something for mother's day or my birthday. and now that she's a young woman in college she constantly asks for recipes of her favorites so that she has better and more satisfying alternatives to things like ramen or domino's. i know i did good. :)

  • KMalinka

    KMalinka said 4 years ago

    Great article!

  • truthbeautyandlove27

    truthbeautyandlove27 said 4 years ago

    My stepfather is italian and cooking has always been a huge part of our lives. I have known how to make chicken cutlets for as long as I can remember. My sisters and I always participated in the cooking of food. Interesting article because my husband's family views food more as just a means to an end, fuel. We joke that when I used to eat at his families house when we teenagers his mom believed a salad was just lettuce with dressing where as at my house salad was a very important and delicious part of the meal. My husband says he had no idea until he met me that food could be such an experience. I am trying to pass a love of not just food but time spent with your family on to our four year old son

  • Tiinka

    Tiinka said 4 years ago

    For some reason my husband and brother are firmly convinced that I'm a cooking whiz (completely and totally untrue; I just know basics that they don't), so its hilarious to make them cook something on their own and give them facetious advice when they want help. Of course, you would be infinitely more empathetic and attentive with a child! But in either case there's no good reason for cooking not to be enjoyable, and as long as there's someone to share it with, even a bird on your shoulder, it feels like something that ought to be shared.

  • KawaiiBits

    KawaiiBits said 4 years ago

    Now i'm hungry. lol Great article!

  • ilovesmallbites

    ilovesmallbites said 4 years ago Featured

    This is awesome. As a chef, I totally agree with you. I believe that kids become less picky with their food when they know how it's prepared, and get involved. I love the idea of cooking with your kids, and nurturing a love of food. Nice article.

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 4 years ago

    VERY intentional...starting with taking them along to our local farmers markets. Enlisting their help with vegetable composting and red wiggler farms that will eventually affect the quality of food that we realize from our garden. I also encourage them to watch some of the food shows, to help mix herbs., or even something as simple as weighing and pricing out produce at the local market! Cooking is a great gift...get a three ring binder, fill it with plastic page protectors and have the kids write out recipes, tricks, cut pictures from food magazines, etc. Aloha, Connie

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 4 years ago

    Love getting them involved, from composting to going to local farmers markets, to compiling their recipes and kitchen experiences in a food journal! Good job, keep going forward!

  • SaffronKids

    SaffronKids said 4 years ago

    In general in our family, I cook, but my husband can and does so willingly some days. We have recently started letting our 5 year old pick the menu on Tuesday nights. She has to think about it ahead of time so we can get any necessary ingredients before her night. She helps prep the meal, helps set the table and helps clean up. We've taken it one step further and let her make it a little cooking show - which I've put up on YouTube. She loves it and looks forward to it every week. After a night when she'd done stir fry and pot stickers, she asked if I knew what her favorite part was of the previous nights meal. Without hesitation, I answered "pot stickers!" and she replied "No! My favorite part was that we all helped make the meal together." I was surprised and very happy to hear that.

  • HastyPhoto

    HastyPhoto said 4 years ago

    I've lost 25 lbs since November 1st and I'm back to where I should be weight wise. How did I do this you might ask? Well, I had to move recently and learned to cook for myself so I figured I might as well cook healthy and lose a few pounds. No diet is needed here. It's really as simple as eating healthy. For me, a lot of fruits and vegtables, I completely cut out all sugar (except what comes naturally in fruit's for example) no soda, no white bread, no fast food etc. Alot of chicken, fish once a week, protein shakes, blueberries, oatmeal I could go on and on. I'm not a parent, but if I had kid's I know they would be eating healthy. Or as some would say, eating clean. So Caleb, I hope your really eating well. Robert.....

  • PaperAffection

    PaperAffection said 4 years ago

    The rule in my house was "If you don't help, you don't eat." This was true for family dumpling making parties, weeknight dinners, and school lunches. My mother was insistent that my sister and I spend time in the kitchen. For our family, it evolved into family time, talking about how the day went alongside learning to season chicken or hold a knife correctly. We started very early - I made my own lunch going to 2nd grade. I could make a full dinner (albeit simple one) by the time I was 14. And its only encouraged my love of food, eating, and cooking as I've moved out and on my own!

  • lauraslastditch

    lauraslastditch said 4 years ago

    We both cook in my house. With our son, we've just made sure we don't bring any food into the house that is not good food. Yes, there are homemade treats, but nothing from a package. When you make the food yourself from whole ingredients, most of it will be good.

  • grannyNstitches

    grannyNstitches said 4 years ago

    I grew up cooking from the time I could stand on a stool and stir a pot. Thank goodness, most of the time, I do enjoy cooking for my family. I especially enjoy getting my grandchildren in the kitchen with me to make some of their favorites or to try out new ideas. While I am not an expert on anything - cooking can bring great pleasure. I encourage anyone to find a mentor to help you if your are unfamiliar with the kitchen; or I have found some "great" new recipes on my internet. Just don't be afraid to try - the worse thing that can happen is that you will promise yourself to never make that item again. I also love making children's aprons which make my grandchildren excited about helping out, even my grandsons.

  • MerCurios

    MerCurios said 4 years ago

    Although I came from a very culinary Italian family, like Caroline I really didn't feel the desire to cook until my son was born in 2006. As far as bringing Gabriel into it, I let him help out as much as wants and as much as he can. Since starting kindergarten this past September his desire to help in the kitchen has pretty much waned, unless of course we are baking cookies or making Scooby-Doo gummy candy a.k.a. gummy bears in the shape of Scooby and the gang. You know what, I'm okay with that.

  • HatsByKelsey

    HatsByKelsey said 4 years ago

    I try to cook dinner every Friday night with my son, who's six. We started when he was about 4 1/2. It's surprising how much young kids can do, even at that age! Anything that needs to be mixed, he's my guy. He can cut fruit and soft veggies with a butter knife, he can tear lettuce for salads, he can choose what meat and veggies he wants and help me check to see if things are done cooking, he can fill tortillas for quesadillas, and his favorite is tasting frequently and helping me decide what else to put in! If you take a few minutes to think about it, you'll find that (as long as you're in no rush) kids can do a lot in the kitchen! He even likes setting the table :D

  • KaiceJoy

    KaiceJoy said 4 years ago

    As a single mom of four young kids, I find that involving my kids in cooking, is often a way I can get more quality time with them, to talk about the day, etcmy kids and I are ., as we cook. Plus, I find that when my kids help, they will often be more willing to try new things if they helped make it!! But, I must confess, my family is definately more into baking than cooking!! We just love food!!

  • OhKnots

    OhKnots said 4 years ago

    When I was a kid my sisters and I took turns on Wednesday nights cooking the dinner, the dessert, and one unlucky soul had to do the dishes. It was a great learning experience and because of it I love to cook now and really enjoy the process as much as the end result.

  • HandmadeIsAllAround

    HandmadeIsAllAround said 4 years ago

    Awww...I don't have a kid but enjoyed reading this article!

  • andiespecialtysweets

    andiespecialtysweets said 4 years ago

    This is great. We have 4 kids under age 7 and an almost 16 year old. I really enjoy cooking and preparing, and presenting a meal. And Caleb, my husband has been introducing us, over time, to a more healthy lifestyle, and is mastering certain dishes he enjoys preparing and is also finding it rewarding and relaxing. The more kids we have and the older they are getting has changed our approach to the finished meal. Our main day-to-day meals are pretty basic and mostly just whole and raw food -so creativity is in the mix of food and bringing in flavor with herbs, oils, and dry spice. So ...very basic, but full in an unexpected way. We didn't even think about getting our kids to appreciate food going into it, but now that we're eating this way for the most part, It seems to be helping the young ones taste the food and appreciate it, with out it having to be altered or doctored up. Just simple ...this cheese tastes good with this piece of fruit, or this cilantro really adds a punch. It also helps us in letting them be involved wherever they like. There's no risk of them breaking a sauce, or adding too much vinegar, or baking soda, etc. to destroy a cooking endeavor, so stress is gone from our kitchen. We decided to have it be all about the kids and not the food, so wherever they want to help -we let them. We think, from our own experience of being raised this way, that this approach will give them confidence to try and do anything, and view mistakes and mishaps as a common thread in the adventure.

  • Soupis

    Soupis said 4 years ago

    I was cooking as far back as I can remember, I have this tiny apron that I can't have fit after 3, I entered baking contest before I could even reach the counter without a stool, I want my future children to do the same. I want cooking to be second nature to them the way it is for me.

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 4 years ago

    Great pic!

  • SomsStudio

    SomsStudio said 4 years ago

    Both my parents were great home cooks! I would help my dad when he was in the kitchen and that gave me great insights on the balance of spices in Indian food. All the chopping and cooking in a hot kitchen....still are my fav memories. Now my husband and I cook together and it is the loveliest time in the kitchen!

  • karensanders

    karensanders said 4 years ago

    I guess it was the relaxed vibe my dad had when making his famous tomato salad that taught me to love food and cooking as a kid. He was a busy busy businessman. But in the weekends when he had wound down a little he made his salad, or croissants for breakfast, and he really took his time and was content. Seeing him prepare and taste food with such joy and sharing it with us, taking the time to teach me as a four or five year old how to cook and slice, those are a few of my fondest and earliest memories. That is what represents family life for me. Today I have a 19-month-old daughter and I let her play and watch in the kitchen (taking care it’s safe). I show her what I’m doing and let her play with tools and ingredients. Food should be fun, no fight, so she eats with us, as much or little as she wants. I put on her plate what we are eating, so she is always free to taste it, no pressure and a lot of encouragement. To me it’s all about the vibe, the atmosphere you set. Make preparation, cooking and eating a thing you share with all whom you love, get everybody involved and have good times. The pallet will follow.

  • butternutbabydesigns

    butternutbabydesigns said 4 years ago Featured

    When I had my first child, I felt the same obligation to start cooking! My parents didn't really cook much and I wanted to start this tradition with my family. When it's time to make supper, I put my baby boy in his high chair and pull it up close to the ktchen counter where he can see what I'm doing. I turn on on some Jazz music to create ambiance and start experimenting with different vegetables and spices. I try not to follow recipes and use up whatever is in my fridge. I really hope my son will remember this and appreciate it later on when he's older..

  • ananemone

    ananemone said 4 years ago

    food can be enjoyable; however, its primary purpose is nourishment, and forgetting that has led to people's willingness to eat junk and inhumanely raised foods; furthermore, women are good at cooking for the same reason men are good at engineering - natural functions, selected by evolutionary pressure over time, come naturally.

  • leslieholz

    leslieholz said 4 years ago

    Growing up in a traditional family where mom cooked "3 squares a day" I always wanted that for my family. It has been difficult with 4 kids and sports, 4-H and all the crazy commitments we seem to get sucked into. Our kids started out with chickens in 4-H and since then we have included meat and dairy animals. My oldest daughter and myself recently took a trip to Texas to take a 2 day cheesemaking worksop and it was a fabulous experience on all levels! I have always tried to make the kids aware of where their food comes from and with our recent foray into cheesemaking it has been so heartwarming to watch their excitement and offer suggestions for our various artisan cheeses. If your kids are involved from day one it certainly makes it easier for them to enjoy the process. It's also MUCH easier for them to decline the junk food their friends so readily consume!

  • OnlyOriginalsByAJ

    OnlyOriginalsByAJ said 4 years ago

    Excellent article! My husband and I have been married for 10 years now and when we first got together, he actually did all the cooking! I never really learned how. While I was in graduate school, I decided that I wanted to learn how to cook. He taught me the basics and I really enjoyed it! When I enjoy something, I have to research it. So the next thing I knew, I was reading all sorts of magazines and cook books and now, I have friends telling me that I need to open up my own bake shop!

  • moranutrition

    moranutrition said 4 years ago

    We are super intentional about cooking with our kids. Its actually a lot of fun and probably one of our favorite activities to do together as a family.

  • MakeMeUnique

    MakeMeUnique said 4 years ago

    My mum loves to cook and she always makes healthy meals. We always sit down as a family to eat in the evenings.

  • LynnRaeDesigns

    LynnRaeDesigns said 4 years ago

    when my grandkids come over we have so much fun making dinners together, they love it as much as I do!

  • Effleuraged

    Effleuraged said 4 years ago

    I love to cook! I do however have a really hard time moving out of the recipe comfort zone. We have started picking new recipes together as a family each week. With a 5 year old and a 2 year old to cook for, sometimes what my husband and I vote for ends up getting bumped for a new version of homemade mac and cheese. Sometimes the recipes stay in the box and sometimes they get thrown out, but I do think involving the entire family makes us all enjoy our time at the table so much more!

  • PerfectPlantsForLess

    PerfectPlantsForLess said 4 years ago

    I enjoyed your well written and thoughtful words. Thank you.

  • vampiregothchick

    vampiregothchick said 4 years ago

    Lovely article!! I also love cooking, now that all my little ones are grown and gone, I've been able to explore more food experiences. I've written menus that fit any holiday enhanced by seasonal cooking. I've been eating seasonally for the last 4 years and I love basing meals on the products that used to be normally eaten at certain times of the year! TY for writing this!

  • HeartFeltbyAndrea

    HeartFeltbyAndrea said 4 years ago

    As a child, I worked in the vegetable garden along side my mother, grandmothers and great- grandmothers. My father was there, too, along with the other men in my family and my brothers. Each household had it's own vegetable patch and we shared potato patches. At the height of harvest season, which is spring to autumn, by the way, if you plan and plant the right way, the women worked all day long to preserve the bounty for the coming winter. That winter was so far away and these ladies were already making plans for delicious meals always amazed me. I learned, literally, at my mothers knee, the value of eating "real" foods. Of spending time with my family, and other loved ones, to prepare the food that sustains us. That we loved doing it was secondary then, at least to my Mama. As I look back over my life now, my Mama is gone, I have two grandmothers left and I have no more favorite a place than standing in front of a pressure cooker on either of their stoves, with my daughters helping me and my grandmothers smiling and telling me how much easier it is to "can" nowadays. I know I am among the lucky ones... I have two daughters and a son. The oldest daughter wants to become a chef. My son will never starve and does enjoy time in the kitchen. The baby sits on the kitchen floor with her pots and pans and wooden spoon as the rest of us prepare our meals. She's cooking too.

  • unabellavita

    unabellavita said 4 years ago

    My 12 year old daughter and I have cooked together in the kitchen, on the camp stove, or the fire pit for as long as I can remember. As a good eater, she was always interested in what is going into what she likes. Now she can mix and match ingredients along with the best of them. She has good taste (pun intended) and has to share with school mates at lunch. Their favorite is pesto! We are a blended family, my husband is Navajo and I am a first gen Italian, so our meals can be very interesting. Think: frybread with osso buco! Such a great combination! Thanks for your wonderful blog. Makes me remember how lucky I am.

  • Bibocks

    Bibocks said 4 years ago

    Thank you for the wonderful comments. It is not always easy to create the perfect homespun meal, but I can see the positive results in my children resulting in fewer illnesses and a generally calm, positive demeanor. They also get to value food through experience.

  • thegentlefarmer

    thegentlefarmer said 4 years ago

    Thank you...my daughter and I bake together, but all these comments inspire me to cook a meal with her.

  • Lukagwa

    Lukagwa said 4 years ago

    It is a gratifying experience to cook with and for family creates a great bond.i do it as often as possible

  • Aliljoy

    AlilJoy from KneeCapsByAliljoy said 4 years ago

    I let my sons participate whenever they show interest. Even if what I am making is complicated I will let them press the buttons on the food processor or mix the ingredients in the bowl. As they get older I give them more room to make what they want...even if it is unappetizing to me. They take pride in their concoctions and are excited to try it. If nothing else I think it opens them up to trying new things!

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