We cook together a lot in our house. Every week the children are each “in charge” of one meal.
They decide what they are going to cook, which they’ve started to think about now the previous week. Favourite meals include Paella and curry from Bug, and Chinese Soup and Tuna Pasta Bake from C.
Depending on what day they are cooking and what else we are up to, they may get a picture shopping list to find the relevant items in the supermarket.
They then get to cook the meal. We bought a mini stepladder from B&Q before we had children, and it is in constant use in the kitchen. They are still not at the point where they can follow a recipe themselves, but C is certainly not far from being able to cook some of his favourite meals from memory. They are only two and four, so I tend to do most of the chopping, but C is getting pretty good at that too. I also do much of the hot work, but they put ingredients in, and stir. Bug loves to taste her ingredients, from chunks of ginger, chilli and garlic, to lumps of chorizo, raw noodles and a snippet of spices. Basically, if it’s safely within their capability to do it themselves, then I try to get them.
While the dinner is cooking they then set the table. In Bug’s case this often means that we sit down with three knives each, because she’s got distracted in the process, but C is pretty consistent at getting the right cutlery in the right place, and making sure that everybody gets a cup and a plate.
At the end of the mealtime, the “Thank you for my dinner, please may I get down?” is always directed at the person in charge of the cooking, and they are proud to be able to say “Yes”. Hubby has told C that he always looks forward to coming home for dinner when he knows that he’s making Chinese Soup, and Bug will always begin the meal when she’s cooked it by demanding to know “Is this a nice dinner?”
I’ve heard on the radio recently that there are adults out there who wouldn’t know where to start in home cooking, who couldn’t even peel an onion or a carrot, and wouldn’t be able to identify garlic or ginger in the supermarket. I can say with absolute certainty that will not be the case with my children!