Kitchen Hack: Hand Over the Keys to the Kitchen


I remember as a young parent that the stress of childhood behavior patterns would make me wonder if my toddler son would grow up and only eat watermelon for dinner. Or never sleep in his own bed. Or always want to get up and run after 10 minutes at the table.

I can also remember being slowed down in the kitchen because of the time it takes to teach kids to cook and then clean up the resulting mess. Plus, shopping with kids in tow is hard when you want to zoom through the store quickly or take time to compare two ingredients while trying to tune out the constant calls of “MOM!”

But somehow all of that was worth it this week when I got a text from my (now college-age) son.

He figured out that it's best for his health and budget to shop for his food and cook  at home rather than only dine out (he had done the latter during his recent internship). Part of that insight came from his Mint money management app -- he told me that he almost collapsed when the app figured out his food expenditures!

Anyway, now that he's trying out his own cooking and shopping, he sent me a photo of the fridge in his apartment. 

Take a look -- his is the bottom shelf!

Here's what he made:

It's pasta, broccoli, and chicken. He was making dinner for a few nights this week.

I can’t tell you how many times I cleaned up a spaghetti mess in my kitchen when he was in high school and just did not have time or the same standards as me. I would make dinner around 6 and he would pick at it. Then, when the kitchen was all clean he would make himself pasta around 9 or 10 at night (he's more of a night owl).

Even while I was scrubbing, I would always tell myself these things:

  • He is making his own food and it's healthy
  • He's working hard on programming
  • He works out a lot so he gets hungry
  • He's busy with his homework

So be happy, and clean it up!

And I did.

I think kids excel at building a better diet and learning to cook when you hand them the “keys to the kitchen” and support their efforts in a positive manner. They also learn menu planning, shopping, and meal preparation when you are doing it and taking them with you!

So don't give up hope when the going gets tough -- I promise that it will pay off in the end!

By Judy Doherty, PC II, AOS, BS

Here are some other fantastic resources for kids...

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