Food25th October 2013

The Kitchen is at the HEART of your home, use it wisely!

The Punk Chef talks about the importance of making cooking a family activity.

by Scott Garthwaite

A family meal at the end of the day means a time of joy and spending important time together as a family away from work and school. Some people start thinking of family meals but run out of ideas to deliver beautiful food, where you all enjoy eating together. I thought it might be a great idea to share some thoughts about involving children in food preparation, it will teach them some good skills for the future and ultimately it's fun. My advice - if you have children in your family... involve them!

Preparing a meal is not about how quick you deliver your meal, it is not ‘Come Dine with me’ where you are getting marked 5/10 or 6/10 for your food, or you not knowing what to cook? It is no good trying to cook when you have children moaning as you are likely to start to fall back on using pre-prepared packets and frozen portions of food because it is quicker. If you love food and if you would like to teach your children how to cook, it could all change now!

Food preparation is about thinking about what you want to do and preparing in advance. It is also about sharing experiences and getting your kids involved in the kitchen as it is part of the learning process. Kids are more likely to try something new if you involve them in preparing the food, as they get to see where the ingredients go and how it is cooked. When I visit schools children are always excited about food and love making things.

Getting your children to choose the ingredients themselves and getting them involved in planning the meal is another way to get them keen on their meals. It is a good idea to get them to pick their own favourite vegetable, meat or fruit. With older children you can get them to look up meals in cook books, magazines or on the web, finding things they would like to eat during the week, taking the weight off your shoulders when thinking about what to cook. Falling back on doing the same dish over and over can start to get boring and it can make you lose your cooking motivation. If it feels like a chore, you are probably doing the same meals week after week. Involving children might inspire you to be more adventurous and to enjoy your cooking more.

Once your kids pick their favourite foods or recipes from the internet or cook book, sit with them and write the shopping list. This is educational, both in terms of food preparation, getting to learn more words and writing the ingredients. Remember to get them to do things that are age appropriate. Older kids can write the shopping list themselves. Take them shopping and get them to pick out the ingredients themselves. If they want to take charge, let them have the grocery list. The more involvement the kids get, the more they will try eating new things and get excited about cooking and food preparation.

Fairy cakes and simple cooking is fun for toddlers, but as our children grow, there is considerable enjoyment and laughter to be gained by allowing them into the kitchen and trying out new things.



Kitchen Tips

  • Remember the importance of teaching them about washing hands and also kitchen safety, as it is your responsibility to make sure the kitchen is clear of dangerous obstacles etc.
  • Give them an apron and a chef’s hat, play dressing up and have fun, as kids love colourful things. It might be worth purchasing a few colourful utensils such as spatulas, bowls, peelers, boards and pans. Kids are more attracted to colourful things.
  • Use of kitchen equipment - kids will get to love kitchen gadgets, because of the feel and noise of them, but it is up to you as a parent to judge the danger involved as you teach them. Let them use them if you feel it is safe, but remember to ‘WATCH ALL THE TIME’ so that nothing can go wrong.
  • Patience is the key, kids tend to be slow and playful in the kitchen, enjoy that fun with them, and don’t rush them. It would be a shame to spoil the fun as you want to associate your kids with positive cooking feelings, not anxiety!
  • The kitchen is a messy place, so relax! Don’t worry over a few spills or a little mess, that is all part of the learning - and the fun! You can always clean up after as get your children to help in the cleaning up afterwards. Remember to  reward them for their hard work, and a job well done! The word ‘Thank you’ goes a long way.
  • Give your children ownership and get a recipe box so that your child can fill it with their favourite recipes that you can use in the future. Ask them what they want to cook, ‘Go and look in your recipe box’, and bring me your favourite recipe. Better still, they can take photos of the dishes they have made. Give them a say in choosing their own meals and give them more ownership by having their personalised aprons, kitchen towel etc. Make them part of the kitchen.

For children, life should not be all about ‘Black Ops, Grand Theft Auto or FIFA’ on thier game consoles, separating themselves from the family circle and going into their bedrooms. It is about balancing family time and spending time together, as well as apart. The preparation of food and family meal time can be good quality family time. My son Rocco is only 1 years old and I am looking forward to passing on all of my cooking skills and teaching him about various ingredients and mixing new flavours. You never know, one day‘Punk Chef’s mini punk chef’ might emerge, or he might get the chance to impress his future girlfriend with his cooking skills! One day he will say ‘Daddy, thank you’. Parenting is all about memories and having a positive effect on your children’s lives, so remember to have fun in getting creative with your children and using the kitchen to bond with them, because the ‘Kitchen is the HEART of your home’!

Article by Scott Garthwaite

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Food

25th October 2013