Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Friday, April 19, 2013

How to Get Your Kids To Make Dinner

Relinquish Control

1.  Let them plan the menu. 

Set some basic parameters (one starch, one protein, a vegi or two and maybe fruit).  Let them make dessert too.  My kids love having this kind of control.  It's one night when they wind up liking everything on their plates.

2.  Have them plan in advance.

Schedule a Kid's Cook Night on a weekend when they can get started early.  If you grow much of your own food and you eat seasonally let them know what you have on hand.  Then have them gather their recipes and make a grocery list.

3.  Stay out of their way, but remain available for questions if needed.

When my kids are in charge of dinner I stay in the house, but I stay out of the kitchen.  I let them have as much control over the process as possible.  I suspend my fear that they might burn a hand or cut a finger.  Since the kids help in the kitchen frequently I feel comfortable with their basic cooking skills - using small knives, taking light things in and out of the oven, moving small pots, etc.  I still help with things that could be really dangerous - draining large pots, using the food processor, etc.

4.  Offer only compliments

Praise their cooking, and any cleaning they do.  Turn a blind eye to the crumbs on the floor and the flour on the counter.  If you are really lucky you'll manage to schedule a Kid's Cook Night on a night when your husband is in charge of cleaning the kitchen.

5.  Let them watch a movie while they eat dinner.

This adds an extra special element of festivity.

6.  Thank them.

I love these nights when the kids cook.  It's great to get a night out of the kitchen.  But it's even better to see their responsibility and teamwork in action.  I love the skills they're creating and the confidence they're gaining.  The benefits definitely outweigh the negatives.

On the menu:  Fettuccine Alfredo, Greek Salad, Applesauce

For dessert:  Peanut Butter Cookies


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