The Cooking Kid: Raising Foodies by Teaching Them to Cook, and ending those dinner time fights

I don’t know about all the other parents out there, but when it comes to dinner time in our house it is always a fight that goes something like this:

Kid: Im starving, I want a snack

Mom: Dinner is almost done, no snacks. You can eat your dinner

Kid: (whining, sometimes with tears) Buuuuut IM STARVING

Mom: (15 min later, Dinner is served) Ok get up in your chair and eat.

Kid: Pokes around his plate with his fingers

Mom: Please use your fork

Kid: Takes two bites and starts playing with the dogs that have positioned themselves underneath him

Mom: I thought you were STARVING why don’t you eat your dinner

Kid: (Laying across his char on his stomach) But I’m Full

Mom: Get up in your chair and eat

Kid: How many more bites

Mom: 10

Kid: 10 (crying) that’s a lot of bites

Mom: Just eat your dinner


Mom: You have only eaten 2 bites


Mom: You aren’t getting out of your chair until you eat 10 bites


I could go on and on and on and on and on. It is a frustrating process for both my husband and I as well as my 5 year old.  I don’t know why dinner time is like this everyday, he is a good eater for breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. I know that after talking to other Mom’s that I’m not the only one that goes through this on a daily basis.

Cooking in our house is an experience, an event, an adventure if you will, it is our relaxing and unwinding time.  We love cooking.  We truly do enjoy the whole process, adding flavors, stirring, tasting, adding, having a glass of wine and just enjoying each others company, and the company of anyone else who may have came over for dinner. My husband and I can take something that would take anyone else an hour to make, and make it a 3 hour ordeal.  This drives some of our family members crazy when they come over, because they are cook it and eat it kind of people, but we enjoy the process.

The daily dinner fight has made our relaxing evening cooking experience not so fantastic any more.  It wasn’t even that he didn’t like the food, because he did and every once in a while he would eat well and say that he liked it.  He just didn’t like eating dinner.

Usually when we are cooking Cooper would be in his playroom or outside playing. He has always been interested in cooking and would ask to help, so i would give him small jobs like stirring or dropping pasta and send him back to playing.

Teach them to cook

So after the same fight day in and day out, and letting Coop help cook here and there with dinner, he started to become more interested in the cooking process. He would ask if he could make us food, which usually consisted of water and a bunch of different spices in the pantry mixed together and warmed up in a sauce pan. It was disgusting but we would try it and tell him how great it was. Thats when I had my AHA moment. “I should teach him to cook”, “He can help make his own dinners”.

That’s exactly what we did.  We started engaging him in the cooking  process every night. We would make him taste the different spices before they were added so that he knew what he was adding and how it tasted, and he knew how it would affect the flavor of the dish. He loved it. He would help stir, and add, then he would taste it and help decide what else it needed to make it perfect.  We even bought him some kid friendly knives so that he could help us chop. They were nylon knives made by The Curious Chef. They are fantastic and I highly recommend them if you have a Kid Cook in your house, as they are designed to not cut skin, but will chop veggies pretty well. We got them on amazon for 9 bucks.

All of a sudden he couldn’t wait to try the different meals that he helped make. He thought everything that he made was “really good” and “the best thing ever”.  Now these weren’t new things that we were cooking. They were the same things that we have always cooked, the same things that he would always throw a fit about eating. The difference was that HE made it. This changed everything.  Instead of fighting to get him to eat, he was excited about cooking and eating what he made. He was learning to love cooking just like we did.

Several months ago he was helping me make shrimp pasta. I was turned around doing something at the sink, when I heard him explaining how to make the shrimp pasta dish. I turned around thinking he had probably called a grandparent to find he had proped up my phone on the counter and he was videoing himself cooking. When I asked him what he was doing he said he was making a cooking show for food network like the ones we watch on TV. He did it all by himself starting and stopping the video and talking about the different steps he went through. I threw it together in iMovie for him and let him watch it. It was pretty good for a 5 year old, he’s a ham. He wanted to know when it would be on TV so I uploaded it to YouTube and sent it to some friends. He was in awe that he could watch himself on TV (with the help of Apple TV).

Now a days dinner has gotten better in our house.  He doesn’t cook every night with us, but he does cook a lot with us and he enjoys the process.  Don’t get me wrong, we still have nights where we fight the dinner fight with him, but those nights are more sporadic and not nightly any more. I’m proud that he is becoming a good cook, and learning to enjoy things in life. We try to teach him to see everyday as an adventure an cooking is no different. Every meal we cook is an adventure, we are always adding something different or trying something a different way just to make something even better. It’s a life lesson that I’m thankful my Son is learning early, and we are making memories doing it. Most importantly it’s great family time spent together, and that’s what it’s all about.

Check out Cooper’s latest cooking video below from our YouTube page, and take a peek at some of our other videos. Subscribe you our blog and YouTube channel to get more adventure from The Adventuring Family.




Moonshine with the Kids

Wait what?! No our kids are not hanging out at a moonshine distillery. We had a fun family Saturday morning adventure in the Jeep to the Moonshine store in Moonshine Illinois. It was beautiful this weekend in the Midwest and a great opportunity to get in the Jeep, top down and doors off and explore as a family.

Moonshine, having nothing to do with the distilled liquor, is a town in east central Illinois consisting of one building that boasts a population of 2. Originally built as a General store in 1889 it moved to its current location in 1912 after a fire destroyed the original building. It got its name from the moon reflecting on a puddle of water outside of the store. Now the little general store is a hot spot for motorcycle and Jeep enthusiasts as well as people from all over the country. The guest book at the cash register has record of visitors from all 50 states as well as internationally. It was even featured on the Travel Channel show burger-land as a great burger joint in the middle of nowhere.

We loaded up the Jeep and headed to Illinois for a burger. It is about 2 hours west of Indianapolis and an hour and a half east of St Louis if you take the interstate, but we think that half the fun of taking off to a destination is the journey to get there, so we took the scenic route. Jeeping truly is a lifestyle, it’s all about a laid back drive exploring the countryside. Cooper came with us, he loves taking Jeep rides with us, and we put the baby in the Tahoe behind us with my mom and aunt. I may be crazy, but I’m not crazy enough to take a baby on a Jeep ride. There are few things better than top down, doors off cruising down a country road, jamming to some tunes.

Moonshine is the definition of a place in the middle of nowhere. Luckily my cell service held up because the map is needed to get to this location. There is nothing but beautiful farmland with scattered farm houses for miles in every direction of this place. Fortunately, (or unfortunately for them) I’ve always been a good navigator and like to think of myself as the character “rabbit” off of the movie Twister. So every time someone asked me on our way there if I was sure that I know where I’m going I lovingly reply “rabbit is good, rabbit is wise”. I’m fairly certain I’m the only one who finds this amusing, but that won’t stop me from forever using this quote when traveling.

When you pull up there is just a couple of parking spots out in front of the store, but there is a grass/gravel lot across the street used for parking as well. I recommend getting there early because it gets busy quick and make sure you bring cash, because they don’t have a card machine, and I would hate to think how far away the closest ATM is. They open up at 6am central time and turn the grill off promptly at 12:30. We got there around 10:15 central Time and had no wait, but by the time we left they were lined up out the door. As you wait you have a chance to look at all of the fun old decor of the general store and browse the items that the sell as you wait to get to the back counter to order. They have local items as well as Moonshine T-shirts, tanks and koozies (we will talk about our Koozie obsession in another post). They have several items on the menu, such as corn dogs, ham and cheese, breaded tenderloin and pork BBQ sandwiches, but they are known for their Moonburger. The Moonburger is a hand patted thick patty with the option of cheese, bacon, double or triple. Once you have your food grab some chips and a drink and head outside to the rows of picnic tables to enjoy in the great outdoors. All of the condiments are outside on a cart so you can fix it up however you want. Usually condiment carts freak me out but this one was pretty clean for an outdoor area. I thought the burger was great, sure I’ve had better burgers, but the atmosphere and the adventure of getting there and checking out an new unique place, I say it is well worth the trip. There really isn’t much else around to look around at, so once you are done eating you are done, and its time to pack up and head home. If you need a bathroom you will have to resort to using the provided port-o-potties in the parking area….or you can just do what I do and hold it until the next town because there are only a hand full of emergencies that would get me in a port-o-potty. Of course as we got done eating the baby had a total diaper blow-out prompting one of the ever anticipated front seat outfit changes. Who said adventuring with kids wasn’t glamorous!

We had a great day. It was fun getting my mom and aunt to come along so that Colt could join us.  It wore some of us out as you can see. Everyone enjoyed their lunch and the journey to and from. If you live within a couple of hours of moonshine or are just passing through, I recommend stopping by and adding it to the list of places you have visited.