Generational Cooking

Each August the boys and I come out to Colorado to spend a number of weeks with my parents (I know, I know I am insanely lucky). I love this time for many reasons, but one of the highlights is always the cooking. I have always loved cooking with my mom.  She is the one who kick-started my passion for trying new recipes, experimenting in the kitchen, and cooking for others. And now that my kids are in on the fun, these moments shared in the kitchen have come to mean so much more. 

As I have talked about before, getting kids cooking is such an important aspect of helping kids to have a healthy, happy relationship with food. And as I watch my mom and my sons cook together this summer, I have also come to realize that there is something particularly special about other family members (or friends) getting in on the cooking. Here are some of the benefits that I have noticed:

  • Dynamics are different. Even if cooking with your kids is an activity that is always fun and light-hearted in your household, we still get stuck in our roles and patterns, and bringing someone new into the mix can help to open things back up. For instance, I taught my older son how to crack and egg, but it was my mom who thought to take it to the next level and teach him out to separate eggs. This can also be a great way to get them to try a new food.
  • Approaches vary. As we all know, there are many ways to do things in the kitchen. Some are more efficient, some are safer, and some can be less intimidating. Sometimes a new person in the kitchen will introduce a new approach that will help your kid (or you!) to try something new.
  • It gives your child a chance to show off their skills. Maybe it is their ability to count, maybe it is their knife skills, maybe it is how well they can flip a pancake, or maybe it is letting them teach someone else how to make one of their favorite recipes. Giving kids the opportunity to show their competence in the kitchen to someone else is a great way to encourage more participation and experimentation further down the line.
  • New recipes make things more exciting. Cooking with a new person is a great opportunity to try out, or be introduced to a new recipe because everyone can learn together.
  • It is an opportunity to pass on family or cultural recipes. Every family has recipes that Grandma Cathy/Aunt Sally/Great-grandpa Mike used to make and it is important to pass those recipes on. They always come with stories and they are a source of family/cultural pride.

Do your kids ever cook with other family or friends? What benefits have you noticed?

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