For a long time, I have been trying to get kids more into the kitchen and food prep. They help occasionally, they mix and pour, they set the table and clean up, they unload the dishwasher, but, somehow, this was not adding up to a coherent whole, namely, what it takes to prepare a meal. After 8 yo wrote out his ambitious cooking goal, and after one time too many when he refused to eat leftovers, I decided to take more drastic measures. On Sunday, as I was planning the menu for the week, I told 8 yo that he's responsible for Thursday's dinner. I asked him what he wanted to make. He said, hot dogs, hamburgers, latkes and baby carrots. I wrote it all in on the fridge. I find in general that having a week's menu posted cuts down on unpleasant surprises, both for the kids and me. I made sure that we had all necessary basics, but I did not defrost ground meat, just made sure that it is here. Sure enough, around 5, I told 8 yo that I am getting hungry and I am expecting his meal. He went to check the menu. He grabbed the hot dogs, but then he did not know where to open the package. He pulled out one of his children's cookbooks and looked up latkes recipe, with apple sauce. As soon as 6 yo heard about apple sauce, he went to the pantry, found two cups, and proceeded to offer it to 2 yo. Now I had three hungry kids clamoring for two apple sauce cups. Bottom line, 6 yo and 2 yo got them. 8 yo was in the throes of grating potatoes using food processor. I made him read all the steps and measurements, and to find all the ingredients. He decided that since he did not get any apple sauce, he will make his own, granted that the recipe is right there, in the cookbook.
Overall, he did make the whole meal. 6 yo set the table. 8 yo arranged baby carrots in a fancy way, but I found out that he does not know where we keep our fleishig bowls. ( In the cupboard, of course, but he never paid attention where that would be). He peeled the apples for apple sauce, then mashed them with a fork. It was pretty good!
mashing the apple sauce
I am hoping to keep this cooking business going. The lesson of planning ahead, collecting the ingredients, dealing with cranky and hungry people, and savoring the final result is just too important.
Oh, and I hope to hear fewer complaints about leftovers.