You have heard me say before that I am a snack bitch. Well, the global crisis has elevated me to the title of Grand Culinarian. I have a general experience these days that all I am doing is cooking and cleaning. And I suppose if I’m having this experience there are probably many of you out there having a similar experience. Because yeah kids have always needed to eat but it seems as though a pandemic makes people extra hungry. I really don’t have opinions on how to allocate food at this time or what kinds of foods to eat at this time, because I feel at this point it’s more about availability than preference. This is more of an inspirational venture Into feeding the masses when there is no school, childcare, sporting events, play dates, or overnights with family members and help carry the load of feeding a tiny yet fierce army of your offspring.
This is the time for the baking empire to rise. If not just a distraction method, there is also a means to an end in feeding people, it is a wonderful learning tool for both socializing, improvising, mathematics, and exploration of the flavor palette.￼￼
In my kitchen, everybody has their own apron, and when a child dons their apron they know that it is a time for listening ears and helpful hands to come out. I also have a full kitchen set of tools that is the appropriate size for my children to use. I have found that if a bowl is too large or spoon oversized it defeats the purpose. The child cannot then engage independently in a task, I am still having to overlord. The appropriate size tools give children the opportunity to act with autonomy in the kitchen. I should say I include my two-year-old in us to some degree.
This brings me to my next point: to start them young. At 2 to 2 1/2 years old I start to teach my children how to crack eggs, pour things into bowls, and peeling. If practiced, by three these things can be done independently. By four you can start to include supervised cooking on the stove and starting to use finer details like measuring increments with the appropriate size spoons and cups. As well as getting the needed items from the pantry or putting things away. I find again with practice that by five these things can then be done independently. My now ￼six-year-old proudly tells people that he can make scrambled eggs by himself as long as someone turns on the stove for him.
Given that I mentioned before that food seems to be more about availability than preference these days it is also an ideal time to use recipes. You may find yourself with 25 pounds of a sweet potato starting to get moldy or discover a forgotten about gallon of pickled scapes and find some exciting and new ways to use those ingredients.￼￼￼ Like at 33 years old I just legitimately found out how to caramelize onions and it is a freaking game changer. Everything I have cooked since then is primo.￼
Also cooking can just merely be a distraction method. A kid comes in crying after falling off a swing, they get a kiss and then an apple to but up and eat. I have thus efficiently dealt with an unruly toddler.
I have said it before, and I will say it again always cook and bake in bulk. It is literally half the amount of cleaning if you bake something one time instead of two times. Your freezer is your friend. You can 100% freeze just about any food or baked good and it will be just as delicious. For example this week I made fresh waffles for the kids one morning and doubled the recipe and the second half of the recipe is in the fridge waiting to be pulled out for easy breakfast throughout the week. For brunch today I made way too much smoothie on purpose so that the rest could be used for breakfast this week. Concluding that my children will be having epically delicious waffles and smoothies for breakfast most days this week with minimal effort on my end.
And you know deep down in your heart of hearts that there will be days where you serve your kids some half-assed weird shit for a meal. For example, there was a day last week where I served my children for lunch: buttered bread, hunks of cheese, canned olives, and canned pineapples. This was not my finest hour and the truth is those kids could’ve cared less. They ate everything on their plate without complaining, which in my humble opinion is a parenting win. So don’t always feel like you have to be offering a three-course meal, there are times to phone it in when that’s all you can manage at that moment, and that is OK.
￼Lastly, I cannot strongly enough recommend having a meal schedule. Meaning that there’s an outline of what meals will be served ahead of time so that they are not crazy-ass requests for things. If the question is why can’t we have pasta for dinner the answer is because pasta night is Thursday and you will have pasta on Thursday. So I will bequeath to you our meal schedule with options.
Leftovers from the weekend and cup of milk
Cold cereal and fruit￼￼￼￼￼￼
Oatmeal, yogurt, granola, and berries
Something easy from the store. Granola bars/cheddar bunnies/ seaweed snacks etc.
Or mom-approved baked goods like low sugar zucchini and carrot bread
A whole carrot
Mac and cheese
Whatever else I can find
Please see above
Monday: Breads and Spreads
Wednesday: Moms choice
Friday: Asian influence and game night
Saturday: Pizza and movie night
Sunday: Grilled meats and such
So go forth and cook for your masses. Feel empowered to take back the kitchen and also teach those kids to help clean up the mess afterwards 😉.