Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's the KIDS fault!!!

Hello fellow travelers!  I'm back.  Sort of. 

The holidays were not good for me this year.  I have had all sorts of good intentions, but you know where those lead you.  I have attempted to maintain our habits of menu writing for the week, cooking on the weekend, and not eating out.  For the most part, I've succeeded.  My weight is up a tad but I'm not back up to where I started, and so I consider this a coup. 

The problem is work,  time, weekends and the kid's pushback.  I know that we all have this problem.  Having pre-teens and teenagers with busy schedules on the weekends is a challenge.  I cook and then get crap from the kids  for what I've cooked.  Sound familiar?  Well, there was this GREAT article in the New York Times the other day about a mother who decided her  sons were going to take over cooking two meals a week.  She would have to be present and would be available for consultation, but they had to plan a menu Saturday morning, get her approval (the menu had to be healthy-no deep fried stuff), list the ingredients for her for grocery shopping, and prepare it on the specific day.  They COULD prepare it on the weekend ahead of time and reheat, if so desired, during the week.  They had to prepare it from beginning to end, and serve it.  The parents, then, cleaned up. 

I presented this idea to Tom and El.  Ellie was all over it.  (She's eleven) and Tom, well, not so much.  He's 13.   I left a note for them today, that they have to pick a meal, a full dinner (protein, veggie and starch), and list the ingredients for me so I can shop to a menu. 

If you think about it, this is really great training.  They learn how to prepare meals from beginning to end, learn the value of menu preparation, learn techniques of cooking, and as a bonus, get a healthy meal out of it.  It is a meal they are more likely to eat because THEY prepared it.  Of course YOU, as a parent, have to clean up, but let's face it,  even when the kids clean up, you end up going back and cleaning anyway.  You may have to eat some bad stuff, but it's worth it if they learn how to cook. 

The greatest challenge the mother had, was sitting on her hands while her fifteen year old made mistakes.  I completely agree that this will be difficult.  Tom is in the Boy Scouts.  One of the mantras they have for the parents is to leave the kids alone and let them screw up.  They learn by making mistakes.  It's really hard to watch your kid making mistakes and NOT leap in to help.  Tom is thirteen now and is trying to establish some independence from me.  He's being the typical snarky thirteen year old.  Occasionally I sit on his head and remind him that I'm not his buddy or his friend, and he'd better shape up.  Mostly, though, I'm giving him more rope with which to hang himself.  Ultimately, he comes back and apologizes when he screws up.  It will be a challenge to let him work unimpeded, or at least with less supervision.  I just want all fingers and toes intact at the end of this year!  I don't really mind eating carbonized stuff. 

One of the bigger problems I had last year was the kids push back on all the "healthy stuff" we were eating.  They missed eating out and not having pizza once every week or two.  I think this plan might help alleviate this.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that this works. 


  1. I think thats a great idea! I kind of wish my mom would have done this with me when I was younger. I dont cook and unforunately I have no desire to either. :/ A woman I work with JUST told me she was making her kids cook too. Good luck and let us know what they make!

  2. There's no better way of appreciating Mom and Dad's cooking than by having to cook it all yourself. Unless you're doing a weekend meal I would start by having them do 1 or 2 out the 3 parts of the meal (they can choose which part: protein, starch or veggie), then step-up to the whole meal.Doing the entire meal is time consuming and might prove to be a bit much for a hectic weekday. Hey--you didn't mention dessert-- my favorite part! Again a teachable moment to choose some healthy type treats like homemade applesauce or homemade granola with yogurt.

  3. I also read that article in the NYT but the devil is in the details! Sure it would be wonderful if my kids prepared two meals a week but I think the effort would not be worth it. Pessimistic yes, but realistic too. Critical to meal preparation is the shopping for ingredients and the clean up after. My teenagers and pre-teen do not have the foresight to use things already in the cabinets that are perhaps nearing an expiration date, do not clean -up pots and pans in between cooking or use creative substitutions for things that just don't matter but save a few cents.Have older broccoli in the refrigerator? Use it in a stir fry. Have pre-made tomato sauce in the refrigerator? Use it to spice up some tacos.

    I also am a big fan of sneaking some healthier ingredients into some of my dishes without my kids noticing or perhaps they are so used to it they just don't complain anymore. Finely chopped carrots seemingly end up in many of my dishes.

    So prove me wrong Dr Diva!

  4. Well my baby is only 5 months old so she's not cooking anything I'm eating any time soon ha ha ha. My issue, besides being lazy, tired, overwhelmed, underprepared, and somewhat undermotivated on my own, is my husband and the largesse of his appetite and his portions and his ingredient choices. Worked from home today so I picked up food for dinner - we're having pork cutlets, asparagus, and carrots. I'm guessing my big kid (who is pushing 48 years of age now) will inquire about the bread, rice, pasta, or potatoes. Pondering how I will handle this question tonight. Thanks for a great blog. New reader, longtime fan of the Diva.