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.