“Oooo, how about this blueberry muffin mix?” eight-year-old asks the morning we’re snowed in. The cook box is open, its contents spread on the floor – cake, muffin, cookie mixes of all shapes and sizes. We decide on the blueberry and the apple cinnamon muffins for breakfast.
For Christmas the past two years, Nana gave this inspiration. A gift for the girls that jump started a cooking fun habit for the whole family.
It’s a simple printer paper box with its lid. But it’s what is inside that makes all the difference. Open and see it filled with mixes and toppings. But most importantly, all kinds of sprinkles.
The contents make it easy for me to say yes. They offer practice for the children in many areas as I described in my first post on our cook box.
Here’s a quick skill check list:
- math – measuring, as well as calculating quantity for our family of seven
- figuring the equivalent egg substitute so that Lil’ Buddy can participate
- learning to use the mixer and oven
- safety skills – don’t get burned!
- cleanliness – wash hands first!
- a good cook always cleans up the mess
- donning an apron is fun
- Mama will say yes when it’s easy
We have the ingredients on hand, all in one place, ready to stir up.
(Stirring up homemade hot chocolate mix, above)
Mix up some memories! Each time I draw up a meal plan, I look for spots I can include the children in the baking and cooking. I call this list Cooking Fun and place it prominently at the top of my meal plan. See, I need these prompts. The children enjoy the spontaneity. I must seize the opportunity to teach, enjoy my children and allow them to be part of the action.
But, of course, decorating and eating is the best part! It’s no wonder the youngest girl declares that when she grows up she “will be the queen of cupcakes and all things sweet!”
A side benefit is that a child can open the box and mix up some biscuits to go with our meal. Stirring right alongside me. They get to choose and see the results.
The cook box was just the start. Now they help plan menus, sometimes coming up with themes to match our studies. Next we starting adding our homemade mixes to the mix. We see what type of Sunbutter® recipe we can make this week. All of the children have an acute awareness of our household food allergies, each one critical of ingredients and substitutes. Because of the allergies, we’re always looking for a new variation.
So much so that our cooking fun habit was featured on the Sunbutter® blog. Above, the children are taste testing after mixing up Southern Plate’s recipe for Peanut Butter Balls, substituting our beloved Sunbutter®. Click Sunbutter® Balls with Homeschooled Kids for the recipe!
Guess what else has happened? My older children can glance at the menu plan, gather ingredients and toss them in the slow cooker. No standing and stirring necessary.
Would you like to put together a cook box? Like me, you’ll be folding your children into the mix rather than shooing them away when hungry time comes.
Keep an eye out for boxed mixes and toppings on sale. Stock up. There’s really no particular recipe or guideline for ours. It’s a Hodgepodge of all kinds of mixes. Fix one up for your family. Store your cook box in the bottom of the pantry. Or put one together to give as a gift like Nana did.
And, of course, the children help with $5 Dinner recipes. Our new favorite is making the breakfast and lunch recipes from Erin’s new cookbook – for supper!
The last bonus is another little habit they are learning. As my mama always says, the best cook knows how to clean up the mess afterward.
How about you? How do you say yes to your children in the kitchen?