I started teaching my son (Bryan) to cook meals when he was 8 years old. I insisted that one day each week (selfishly, I chose Fridays because by that time, I was exhausted) that he had to make dinner and it had to be from scratch. He was not permitted to make dinner from packaged foods. He had to find the recipes that he wanted to make, we purchased the food items he needed to make dinners, and he made the meals.
However, the very first lesson ended up being my own!
The first meal he chose was Pasta Alfredo from an Italian cookbook I had. He made the list of ingredients that he would need and we went to the supermarket so he could get the needed items. It was at checkout that I discovered my mistake. I was so focused on teaching him to be independent so he could cook meals for himself when he grew up and was out on his own that I never thought to include lessons of HOW to shop!!! Seeing the total that I had to pay for all of the ingredients was $75 was like a pail of cold water being thrown into my face!!!
OUCH! $75 in 1983 would be equivalent to $178 today!!!
You can bet we resolved that issue VERY quickly. I accompanied him up and down each of the supermarket aisles as he chose the items for the next meals he wanted to make. When he showed me what item he had picked off the supermarket shelf, I showed him a number of ways to get almost every one of those items more cheaply (look up at the top shelves and down at the lower shelves for cheaper items, use the sales flyer to decide what recipe to make, buy ingredients that were in season, etc.).
After we resolved that issue, he went back to choosing the recipe, going into the supermarket by himself to get the ingredients (I sat in the car until he waved at me from the supermarket door so I could come in and pay for the ingredients).
We also conducted a series of taste tests as we compared the manufacturer’s brand ingredient with the “no frills” ingredients to decide which tasted better. The results ended up being about 50/50. Yup – those same “no frills” items that turned him into an entrepreneur when he not only stopped the kids at school from making fun of him for having “no frills” items in his lunches to BUYING those items!!! The ONLY difference was one single change in the way I packed those items in his lunch.
He got better at selecting recipes that used produce that was in season and we purchased many of those ingredients from roadside fruit/veggie stands. In fact, that was where he began getting more adventurous and tried different produce items that he found, and then incorporated those items into the recipes he made.
Today, Bryan is a gourmet chef! I like to think that all those different lessons had something to do with that. I do know that he is much better than I am and he has become quite expert at finding and selecting quality food items at the best places.
Let me offer a suggestion to you: Keep an open mind when your kids or hubby suggestions items that you might not be what you expect. Keep this fun. Family time should be a time for each of you to visit with each other and find out what’s important to each member of your family. It is okay to have some nights that do not have all of the items in the food pyramid once in a while, if that is what it will take to get all members of the family involved.
You might just be amazed at the end result, which may not show up for years. I still watch Bryan in amazement as he preps all of the ingredients for the various meals he makes and how quickly he does it.
Please share some of your unexpected lessons.