Monday, September 1, 2014

Menu Planning with an 8-Year-Old

Last year, I made it my mission to teach my children life skills.  They learned how to operate the washer and dryer, how to fold clothes, how to use the vacuum cleaner attachments, how to take out the trash, and how to wash and dry dishes.

They learned how to change a light bulb, how to change batteries, how to use a screwdriver or hammer and where we keep the tools in our house and shed.  

I was a bit gun-shy about letting them find their way into the kitchen, though.  I'm kind of territorial about the kitchen and it was hard to encourage help knowing I can do things so much faster by myself.

That was until Owen was bitten with the baking and cooking bug.

drooling over a cookbook and marking recipes he wants to try

Last fall, he made his first batch of sweet potato biscuits... and then he made a chocolate cake for a Christmas party...and he started gaining momentum as he found recipes and asked to try them.  It took discipline on my part to be hands-off and let him read, experiment, measure, and learn on his own, but he has blossomed into a baker as a result.  (He says he wants to open a bakery when he grows up.)

In July, we went to a $1 showing of the The Lego Movie. There is a mention of Taco Tuesday in the story and it got Owen's wheels spinning.  He said, "Wouldn't it be fun if we could have dinner themes one week? We could have Meatless Monday and Waffle Wednesday..." 

I think I surprised him when I said, "Let's do it!" 

I let him determine the themes on the condition he committed to cooking with my assistance every night and he agreed without hesitation!  His choices reflect his 8-year-old palate:
Sundae Sunday (a birthday party)
Meatless Monday
Taco Tuesday
Waffle Wednesday
Three-Course Thursday
French Fry Friday
Spaghetti Saturday

The week was an opportunity to teach him so many things: meal planning, making a grocery list, shopping for ingredients, slicing, measuring, time management, preheating the oven, turning on burners, kitchen safety, kitchen clean-up.  More importantly, though, we enjoyed our daily time beside each other as we worked to get food on the table.

Today is Alaine's 4th birthday. She requested cupcakes for her party yesterday which sent Owen  running for his cookbooks.  He gave her four or five choices and let her pick.  She selected pink lemonade cupcakes and neither Owen nor the cupcakes disappointed.


  1. LOVE it! His Banana Peanut Butter muffins were delicious.

  2. I'm rather territorial about my kitchen, too. Never let my kids cook much but now both kids do a lot of experimental type cooking in their own kitchens. How kind of Owen to make his sister's choice of cupcake. Pink lemonade cupcakes! Yum!

  3. How nice your son loves to bake! Congratulations on your daughter. Four years is a wonderful age. I saw her picture on your blog. What a sweet girl. Brown eyes! Here we have only blue and green eyes :) Compliments for the funny little cake

  4. I love how Owen puts his all into a project! He is quite the baker these days! ♥
    It's so worth a bit of patience and training at the beginning, for in the long run, he has developed a skill/art that he enjoys and that everyone else benefits from.


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