A New Cook in the Kitchen

It’s no secret that I have hesitated to let my two children “help” me in the kitchen. It has always seemed like more trouble than it’s worth, with poorly measured ingredients, big spills, and squabbles about who gets to do what.

Today, however, something magical happened: I changed my mind. I realized that in order to survive this long summer at home with my four-year old and six-year old, I’m going to have to give them jobs beyond setting the table and feeding the dog. And, who knows? They just might be ready to handle it.

Little Chef Grace McNally proudly displays her first creation | Photo by Jen McNally
Little Chef Grace McNally proudly displays her first creation | Photo by Jen McNally

This afternoon, after having her hose off our very sandy beach shoes, I let my six-year old help put away the groceries. Grace did this very well, and she felt proud. Buoyed by a surge of self-confidence, she then decided to fix herself a snack.

First, she put yogurt in a carefully chosen bowl (she spilled some, but cleaned it up without any prompting), and spooned some granola over the top.

Then, she asked me to teach her how to fix the fresh, local strawberries we had just brought home. I helped her choose a colander and explained about only rinsing as many as she needed right then. She removed the stems herself, and carefully placed the berries on top of the granola layer.

Next came grapes, and then a single raspberry as a garnish. Grace smiled as she worked, and at one point she exclaimed, “I can’t believe I’m cooking!” It was priceless. Of course, she ate the entire concoction, and excitedly recounted the entire “cooking” process to her dad when he arrived home.

Later, Grace asked me if I would teach her how to cook this summer. “It would be a really fun project to do together,” she explained, as if I needed any convincing. Her first request? She’d like to learn how to fix a frozen waffle, so that she can cook breakfast for her little sister. Who could say no to that?

I’ll keep you posted on my little chef’s progress. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your stories about teaching kids to cook. Leave a comment below!

I can’t believe I’m cooking!

— Grace McNally, age 6

Jen McNally moved to Maine from Colorado four years ago, in search of a simpler, more natural lifestyle. Since then, she has planted her first-ever vegetable garden, raised a flock of six hens, and continues to learn about healthy living. She is a stay-at-home mother of two active girls, ages five and three. In her former life, she studied in Germany for two years, traveled to 6 continents and 31 countries, and was the marketing manager for an adventure travel company. Jen contributes regularly to the Guiding Stars blog.