As part of the October Unprocessed challenge, my kids will be cooking several complete meals or most of a meal for the family. This sounds great in theory. After all, we want our kids to gain skills in the kitchen. We know they’re more likely to try something new that THEY’VE made.
The other half of the equation is the rest of the siblings which is not often discussed. We’re a foodie family. We experiment with our recipes. We play with flavors. How do we balance a respect for the cook’s efforts, especially a sibling’s efforts, with an objective critique of a new recipe?
Build a Culture of Respect for the Cook, Adult or Child
As parents, we thank the child responsible for making the meal or making a dish in the meal when we’re sitting at dinner. We publicly recognize effort, all efforts. It doesn’t matter whether my son did a small task like mixing gravy while it cooked on the stove, or another son made the mac and cheese from start to finish. All efforts are recognized.
At all times, we make it clear that the phrase “I hate…” is not permitted. Kids can say “That is not in my taste” which acknowledges that others may like the taste and we all have individual tastes. We also don’t allow any pretending to throw up, and yes, this does happen with the 5 year old.
Meal Plan with Everyone’s Tastes in Mind
When creating a meal plan, I try to accommodate everyone’s tastes. My goal is to have at least one dish that someone likes. Some kids aren’t fond of sausage, though they’ll eat roasted potatoes and green beans. They need to eat one bit of sausage since their tastes have changed over time. When it comes to vegetables, since we’ve had the kids eat the number of bites for their age, most of the time, they willingly eat their vegetables without being reminded.
If the kids don’t like something, we ask questions to find out what it is they don’t like. Sometimes it’s about the texture – cooked carrots versus raw carrots. Sometimes, the taste changes when the food is reheated. I’m the first to say that I prefer cold cooked meat over reheated meat. It’s often easier to accommodate individual tastes during leftover night since the kids can choose what they want on their plate.
Use Food to Create Community
Make a special cookie for Grandma and Grandpa. Of course, cooks need to taste their recipes to make sure they’re good.
Make special cupcakes for your child’s birthday to bring to school to share with their friends.
Grow a row of vegetables in your garden, and bring the harvest to the local food bank.
Make a casserole together for a family with a new baby.
Make a food gift like Peppermint Bark Candy for the your child’s teacher at Christmas time.
Go to the grocery store and buy food for the local food bank once a month.
How do you handle teaching kids to respect the cook?
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