Kids and Chores: Cooking Meals

I've written before about how I am on my kids' elementary school's committee to make our dream of a sustainable, healthy learning environment for our kids, a reality.  One of the aspects that our committee is addressing is adding a Farm to Table lunch program that is complimented by a culinary arts curriculum. As we investigated this further and looked at the culinary arts at a nearby school, I realized that once again I was underestimating my children. Not only was I underestimating my children, I was being lazy and taking the path of least resistance that in turn was handicapping my children's development. So, the Frowzies have begun a new experiment.

Each week, each of my children plan the meal that they will be cooking. I give them several cookbooks to go through and give them nutritional guidelines and then let them go. They pick an entree, 2 side dishes, and a dessert. Then they make a grocery list from the recipes. My two 8 yr olds and my 7 yr old do this on their own. I help the 4 yr old pick and write her grocery list.

Boys planning their menus

At the grocery store and farmer's market, they pick up the things on their list which leads to a whole other level of nutrition discussions. I had never spelled out for my kids why I bought certain things over others. They didn't know what "organic" meant. or "free-range." or "anti-biotic and hormone free." It led to some fascinating conversations!

Daugher cooking chicken

In the kitchen, I work right beside each child as they prepare the meal. I teach them how to chop and how to sautee, roast, broil, etc. It was a bit earth shattering to realize how capable and mature the kids really are. They aren't my babies anymore. And they absolutely love getting to cook "their dinner."

Daughter's Pasta dish

They are so proud of what they have done, and goshdarnit, I'm really proud of them, too. When they serve the meal, the kids get to talk about what they did and how things went. They established the rule that everyone must try at least one real bite of everything that their sibling prepared. I get a little misty when they praise each other about the meals, because let's face it, some days those moments are few and far between. And I'm not going to pretend that I haven't already thought ahead a couple of years when 3 nights of the week I won't have to cook dinner.

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This is so great that you do this with your kids. What a true gift and I so wished my mother hadn’t given into my “I don’t want to” when I was this age. Maybe my cooking repertoire would be a little broader at age 43.

We have started a similar version of this with my 4 year old but I think I will soon start him on a little more in depth version.

Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work!

Kristin P

So very cool that you do this. We are going on a all fruit and veggie diet for 7 days and will be seriously cutting back on meat over the course of the next several weeks.

Maybe we can catch you guys at the Tower Grove farmers market some weekend. I also loved your spring article on the crop sharing with EarthDance. I plan to get in on that next year.

Keep up the great work. I love reading your articles that are off the “green cleaning” topic from time to time.


Matt Ricketts

I am sooooooo stealing this.


You are really an amazing mother. I wish I had the patience and time to do this – oh, and I wish I could first come to your house to learn how to sautee, roast and broil!


Love it! I think I may try this, too! Thanks for the idea!


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