Thursday, July 28, 2016

Apprentice Chefs

My master plan is finally coming to fruition! Over two years ago, I said I would steal my friend's brilliant idea of having her son cook one night a week. I can't believe my boys are old enough to start, but pinch me! They are!

We started with a stromboli contest. Each boy seasoned and stuffed their own roll of frozen bread dough. I gave instructions, but the only physical help I gave was flipping Max's dough over onto the pan. They rocked it! And they were so proud of themselves! And so eager to find out who "won" the contest. I made up some lame "everybody gets an award" title for each boy, but I'll tell you who won that contest! This mama did! The boys loved it and immediately begged to do it again. After they made three large pizzas the next week, we decided that contests were not sustainable. We didn't want three days worth of leftovers every time they cooked! So, Calvin suggested that one boy be in charge of the main dish, one could make "side options," and one would tackle dessert. Best. Plan. Ever. Now, once a week, the boys are responsible for picking out and making a meal. They get super excited about it, and they're pretty stinkin' good! It's fun for everyone and they learn a new skill almost every time. The other night I was in a pinch getting an omelette roll ready, so I asked Calvin to fry the bacon and Max to crack a dozen eggs. They didn't need any help at all because they'd been trained the night the boys made "brinner." Fortunately, this time Max picked eggshell out of the bowl so we didn't find it in our food.

Some tips I've learned while training my little chefs:

- Kid cooks are super messy! I try to roll with it. If it isn't fun, they won't want to keep cooking.
- I don't hold a spoon much, but I'm needed for advice and instruction constantly. These aren't nights off, but I'm training them so that some day I have three adept chefs (and three nights totally off from cooking!)
- Macaroni and cheese and carrot sticks are apparently the only acceptable side options to my youngest two. Last week, I told them they had to make a vegetable that wasn't orange. Reed shocked me by suggesting steamed broccoli. Calvin decided that on his main dish night he'd make macaroni and hamburger. Baby steps.
- Nothing is perfect, but it's totally worth it. Biting into a few eggshells in our breakfast casserole is a small price to pay for the boys to develop a sense of pride, ownership in family chores, and to be able to feed themselves something other than pizza when they move out. Plus - THREE NIGHTS A WEEK WITH NO COOKING ARE IN MY NEAR FUTURE!!!!!!

P.S. The friend who inspired this idea isn't the only genius in my life. My high school math teacher's wife wrote a book about the concept! Hey Mom, I'll Start Dinner: A Team Approach to Getting Dinner on the Table