Cooking as a Family
“If baking is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation. There is something about the smell of baked goods cooking in the oven that just says home and security.”
The Rich Tradition of Catholics in the Kitchen
“There is an intimate connection between food and faith. In the Garden of Eden, God provided food for Adam and Eve and commanded them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; the Israelites ate manna in the desert; the most important feast for the Jewish people was the Passover, commemorated with a ritual meal; and of course, the quintessential ‘feast of faith’ is the Eucharist, in which Jesus Christ is made present under the appearance of bread and wine.”
Most families usually get together around the holidays to prepare special dishes. Perhaps your family likes to gather around Christmas time to bake Christmas Cookies. Or like for me growing up, my brothers and I all had our signature pie that we were in charge of baking for Thanksgiving dinner.
SIX BENEFITS OF COOKING AS A FAMILY
Help family members bond with one another and have fun, and perhaps offer the opportunity to discuss important topics, that you may otherwise not have time for in that day.
Teach kids culinary skills they can use to feed themselves and their future families.
Help kids discover the nutritional properties of foods.
Allow you to explore new flavors, tastes, and recipes as a family.
Improve health outcomes, you know what your children are consuming when you cook it yourself.
Build confidence in children.
SEVEN TIPS FOR COOKING AS A FAMILY
1. Make cooking age appropriate.
You know your kids and what they can handle. Some children may be very adept and coordinated at handling tools and ingredients, while others should only be in charge of stirring.
2. Trust in your kids.
Sometimes we may feel afraid to let children approach the stove or use a knife, but with proper supervision they can usually handle more than we think they can.
3. Recognize that cooking as a family will take more time.
The recipes that you can whip up in your sleep will likely take more time when the whole family is involved. It might be quicker and easier for you to crack 4 eggs into a bowl or to chop an onion, yet when you encourage your child to do these things, it builds confidence and trust.
4. It is OK to create a mess.
Cooking will be stressful if kids feel pressured to do everything perfectly with no allowances for flour spilled on the counter or spatters on the stove. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they do the cooking, and you have to deal with the mess. Once the cooking process is finished, you can teach your kids how to clean the dishes.
5. Get your kids involved in planning.
Sit down together as a family to sketch out what kind of meals you would like to eat. Kids are more likely to enjoy the process when they have some agency. Devise guidelines together, like each meal must include two different kinds of vegetables or other family food rules.
6. Take your kids to the grocery store.
This helps children learn about recognizing and selecting ingredients and the cost of food, exposes them to scents and tastes, and helps inspire them to explore new flavors. You could ask them to pick one new ingredient each trip or give them a budget challenge and ask them to buy ingredients for an entire meal within certain monetary limits.
7. Remember to enjoy the process!
Cooking family-friendly recipes together is meant to be a fun experience, not drudgery. Make your cooking time fun! Perhaps add in some flair by choosing great music or podcasts to listen to. (We have some great podcasts on our Religious Education Website!)
Resources from: Days of the Year; Our Sunday Visitor; Academy of Culinary Nutrition