Raising Little Chefs

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids in the Kitchen

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how kids get involved in their own feeding. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Growing up, being asked what we wanted for dinner meant picking a restaurant. My first word was “fry!” as we passed a McD’s. When I moved out and had to cook, I burnt minute rice, ruined ramen, and would set fire to microwave dinners. But I loved food. My girlfriend (now wife) kept us from going hungry. Even more than that, she’s pretty dang good, especially with creating something from nothing, which is not unusual for a couple just starting out. But I really wanted to know how to cook and create the foods we loved for myself. So I went to culinary school. It took two and a half years, during which time we also got married and had our first son. L1 was three months old when I graduated.

Graduation, December 2007

Since then I have wanted my boys to know how to cook. I would wear them in a carrier while I cooked. We encouraged them to help with the grocery shopping, exploring new foods. And now that they are getting big enough, I try to welcome them to help me cook whenever possible. Even if it is just scrubbing potatoes, I want them to be a part of feeding themselves and our family.

There is always SOME job they can help with.

I never expected kids to enjoy foods like salad, brussels sprouts, salmon, or anything with flavor. I thought all kids ate plain-tasting foods: chicken nuggets, mac n’ cheese, french fries. But the more my kids are involved in the process, the more things they are willing to try. I want to encourage that to continue. For them to know there are no bad foods, just bad ways of making them. So, the trick is to find the good way to make them. We might try three or four different recipes before working out how some ingredients are best served.

Never give up, never surrender. Even the brussels sprout was defeated and devoured!

I love my boys (and the new baby on the way), and like any parent, I want for them everything I didn’t have. There isn’t much, but a good knowledge of food and cooking is near the top of the list, and I am so happy I have some skills I can pass on to them in that area. We are learning together, and not just about food. It takes a good amount of patience and trust to work with kids in the kitchen. Sometimes it does get to be too much and I have to find something else to occupy them so I can just get dinner served. But every little bit matters, and there is always another chance to invite them to help later. It is a lesson I have been able to take to other parts of our lives to work at being a better dad for them. See, we all win.



Mike married his high-school sweetheart (Jennifer of True Confessions of a Real Mommy), went to culinary school, got a job as a chef, fathers two boys, and is awaiting one on the way in December. It may be easy to write in a sentence, but life is full, and he does the best he can to enjoy every moment.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Baking & letting go — Cooking with kids can be a mess. Nadia at Red White & GREEN Mom is learning to relax, be patient, and have fun with the process.
  • Family feeding in Child of Mine — Lauren at Hobo Mama reviews Ellyn Satter’s suggestions for appropriate feeding and points out where her family has problems following through.
  • Children with Knives! (And other Kitchen Tools) — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy teaches her children how to safely use knives.
  • “Mommy, Can I Help?” — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how she lets her kiddos help out with cooking, despite her {sometimes} lack of patience!
  • Solids the Second Time Around — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts her experiences introducing solids to her second child.
  • The Adventure of Toddler TastebudsThe Accidental Natural Mama shares a few things that helped her daughter develop an adventurous palate.
  • A Tradition of Love — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy looks forward to sharing the kitchen traditions passed on from her mom and has already found several ways to involve baby in the kitchen.
  • The Very Best Classroom — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts reveals how her kitchen is more than a place to make food – it’s a classroom!
  • Raising Little Chefs — Chef Mike guest posts on Natural Parents Network about how he went from a guy who couldn’t cook to a chef who wanted to teach his boys to know how the food we love is made.
  • In the Kitchen with my kids — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares a delicious soup recipe that her kids love.
  • Papa, the Pancake Artist — Papa’s making an incredible breakfast over at Our Mindful Life.
  • Kids won’t eat salad? Try this one! — Tat at Mum in Search is sharing her children’s favourite salad recipe.
  • Recipe For a Great Relationship — Cooking with kids is about feeding hearts as well as bellies, writes Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • The Ritual of Mealtimes — Syenna at Gently Parenting Twins writes about the significance of mealtimes in her family’s daily rhythm.
  • Kid, Meet Food. Food, Kid. — Alburnet at What’s Next? panicks about passing on her food “issues” to her offspring.
  • Growing Up in the Kitchen — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares how her son is growing up in the kitchen.
  • Harvesting Corn and History — From Kenna at School Garden Year: The kids in the school garden harvest their corn and learn how much history grows in their food.
  • My Guiding Principles for Teaching my Child about Food — Tree at Mom Grooves uses these guiding principles to give her daughter a love of good food and an understanding of nutrition as well as to empower her to make the best choices for her body.
  • Kitchen Control — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro writes about her struggles to relinquish control in the kitchen to her children.
  • Food — Emma at Your Fonder Heart lets her seven month old teach her how to feed a baby.
  • Kitchen Fun? — Adrienne at Mommying My Way questions how much fun she can have in a non-functional kitchen, while trying to remain positive about the blessings of cooking for her family.
  • Kitchen Adventures — Erica at ChildOrganics shares fun ways to connect with your kids in the kitchen.
  • Kids in the Kitchen: Finding the Right Tools — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares some of her favorite child-sized kitchen gadgets and where to find them.
  • The Kitchen Classroom — Laura at Authentic Parenting knows that everything your kids want to learn is at the end of the ladle.
  • Kids in the Kitchen — Luschka from Diary of a First Child talks about the role of the kitchen in family communication and shares fun kitchen activities for the under two.
  • Our Kitchen is an Unschooling Classroom. — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle explores the many ways her kitchen has become a rich environment for learning.
  • Montessori-Inspired Food Preparation for Preschoolers — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares lots of resources for using Montessori food preparation activities for young children in the kitchen.
  • My Little Healthy Eater — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares her research on what is the best first food for babies, and includes a healthy and yummy breakfast recipe.
  • Two Boys and Papa in the Kitchen: Recipe for Disaster?MudpieMama shares all about her fears, joys and discoveries when the boys and handsome hubby took over the kitchen.
  • Food choices, Food treats — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea shares her family’s relationship with food.
  • learning to eat — Catherine at learner mummy reflects on little M’s first adventures with food.

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