Why I Cook With My Kids
Did you grow up with a stay at home mom who almost always made home cooked meals? Did your mom let you eat the mashed potatoes or the cupcake batter off the spoon while she was cooking? Now that you’re thinking about it, weren’t those some of the best moments as a kid? All that excitement for whatever food your mom was making and you got to have a taste before anyone else did… now that I’m a mom (and a working mom at that), I try my best to cook good, home-made, wholesome meals for my family, but let’s face it, as a working mom we order takeout more nights than I’d like to admit, so when I can, I love to cook with my kids.
I am not going to lie and say that my kids are Masterchef kids in training, because, well, they aren’t. But we do have a couple favorite meals that we like to prepare together, because I want my kids to look back some day and think, wow, my mom didn’t always cook us dinner, but, sometimes when she did, it was the best. (Now that I’ve admitted it out-loud, my kids will probably never think this).
I’m going to give a big thank-you and big props to my husband for this idea, but one of my son’s absolute favorite foods to cook with us is homemade pizza. We don’t do it all from scratch (although you certainly could) but we use the Jiffy brand pizza dough mix, I buy the pizza sauce from the local grocery store (it comes in a squeeze bottle that my son LOVES), and then mozzarella cheese to top it (if we’re feeling really creative we add pepperoni) but you could add any other pizza toppings. Nights like these, I like to keep it simple and not put too much extra work into dinner, but I’m sure chopping some onion and green pepper would be delicious, or whatever toppings you like on your pizza. My kids are cheese pizza monsters, so we keep it simple around here. I’m not going to lie, it makes a huge mess. But it’s fun! We like to let our son help knead the dough and he likes to do a “Hulk Smash!” while sitting on the island and smashing the dough down on the counter. This might not be the healthiest and most nutritious meal, but the memories created while preparing the meal are worth so much more to me than one healthy meal could ever be. This picture summarizes everything I’d like to say, but can’t (sometimes, a picture really is worth 1000 words).
Another favorite of mine to make with the kids (and before anyone says anything, I know this will fall under the “baking” category, but it’s all cooking to me 😉 is cupcakes. We’re sweet lovers in my house, and I’m probably the WORST about eating them. I can’t help myself. Desserts are just too good not to enjoy. That being said, we love to bake cupcakes in my house. My son loves to help stir the batter, and help frost the cupcakes and add sprinkles…. And of course, he likes to lick the batter off the spoon or the sides of the bowl when I let him (and by that I mean when he beats me to it!)
Since we don’t always eat pizza and cupcakes in my house, another thing my son loves to help me make is mashed potatoes. He loves using the potato masher and helping stir the milk, butter, salt, pepper, and sour cream into the potato mix. He gets incredibly excited about helping mommy cook, grabs a chair and brings it over to stand on to help me. It’s such a reward to see his excited face, and, it’s really becoming quite helpful for me (and no, I for once don’t mean that sarcastically).
I know that sometimes it’s easier to pick up something quick on the way home from work and daycare and whatever else your family has going on at night for supper. I know this. I do this at least once a week. I also know that it’s significantly easier to just make dinner myself instead of ask the kids to help. It is always a mess when the littles help. Even when they try really really hard to be careful and not make a mess, they still do. Trust me, I know. At the end of the day, though, there really isn’t much better than taking a step back, and enjoying your family. Enjoy these moments, moms, because pretty soon, they won’t be there.