This Special Time Builds Important Skills And Memories Your Child Will Cherish

There are so many things we want to teach our children, and so many experiences we want to share with them as they grow.

Our family traditions, stories, and shared values bind us together through the generations and give our children a foundation to build their own lives upon.

Every family has special memories and traditions, but there is one activity we can make our kids a part of that really brings all of these things together.

Cooking family meals – some of us like to cook, others, not so much.

But whether we are trained chefs who enjoy making gourmet meals or we’re choking down Hamburger Helper while running out the door to practice, food really is an important part of family.

We all likely remember the smells coming from our grandmother’s kitchen as she prepared a special meal, or a favorite batch of cookies that we used to make with our moms when we were kids.

Recipes are often cherished keepsakes in a family because food evokes a feeling of comfort, safety, and tradition with the memories that come with certain meals.

We’re all busy nowadays, and we often don’t have the time or energy to cook a big meal at night – but we don’t have to create a major production to make memories in the kitchen with the kids.

And the earlier they start in the kitchen with you, the more memories you will create and skills you will help them develop.

Now, you may be thinking, “I’d rather have a root canal than clean up after a toddler who has helped with dinner.”  But that’s all part of the process.  They are not only learning that they are a valuable part of the family, but also that they share in the responsibilities and rewards of hard work.

Little ones can scoop and pour and help stir batter.  Older kids can practice fractions and learn the science behind cooking.  And once they’re confident in the kitchen after growing up with these skills, those teens of yours can take over the responsibility of making a few dinners a week.

There’s so much more to cooking with our kids than just baking a batch of cookies or helping with a meal. We can involve them in the entire process – from farm to table.

Take your young children to the grocery store with you and let them help plan a healthy meal.  (You’re thinking again you’d rather have that root canal, aren’t you?)  It may make for a longer trip, but even little ones can walk alongside you in the aisles while you talk about the colors, textures, and flavors of food.

Or your child may have a food allergy that makes them feel like they’re missing out on something that everyone else can have.  Let them research some safe recipes online with you and help shop for the ingredients and prepare the meal for the family.

Older kids can learn about the value of a dollar when they help you out at the store.  Before you go, let them find a recipe, write a list, and calculate how much of everything they will need to serve everyone in the family.  Then, give them a budget and let them find a way to get the most for their money.

Even the smallest of our little ones can take part in the preparation of meals.  Every parent in America has likely had at one time or another a kitchen cabinet or drawer full of plastic storage containers or pots and pans that are played with more on the floor than actually used for cooking.

But being in the kitchen together and establishing the traditions of food and family will have a lasting positive impact on a child of any age.

It may be easier now than ever to find recipes that suit our hectic schedules and varied diets and food preferences.  There are thousands upon thousands of recipes available online for any budget and taste.

While the internet can be a valuable tool in planning meals, don’t forget you’re building memories in the kitchen and traditions that your children will pass on to their families.

All of us probably have a recipe or two from our mothers or grandmothers, carefully written out on a yellowed index card, that we cherish.  It’s a sad fact that most of us don’t hand-write letters or recipes anymore.  After all, why would we take the time when we can just print something out or even just take our tablets into the kitchen with us?

Because, tradition is important.  Memories and keepsakes are important.  We want our kids to have something tangible to remind them of special times.  Take the time to write out your favorite recipes – or the ones that are your kids’ favorites – it will be well worth the time.

In fact, a great keepsake to hand down is a handmade family cookbook.  You can purchase a large journal, photo album, or scrapbook and have everyone write down their favorite dishes.

And Mommy Underground wants to get your family cookbook started with these free printable recipe cards.

You can print out several copies on cardstock and write down some special recipes, or let your young writers create their own to look back on in years to come

Other ways to preserve these special times?  Take pictures while you’re cooking with the kids (like the cloud of flour that managed to find its way onto all the living room furniture), at the dinner table making funny faces, or when you’re having a picnic or backyard cookout.

Along with the recipe, you can have each family member jot down a memory of the meal and a photo of that time.  After all, food is so much more than something we eat to survive.

It connects us, it helps us celebrate, fosters conversation, and strengthens family bonds.  That’s pretty amazing, and something well worth sharing with our kids as they grow.

And don’t forget, Mommy Underground has special free printable recipe cards you can find here to add to your family cookbook!

Do you involve your kids in preparing family meals?  What are some of your favorite memories of cooking with the kids?  Leave us your thoughts.