Cooking with your kids, and teaching them how to cook using easy recipes, gives them freedom and self-confidence that will grow throughout their lifetimes. I learned this by accident when I was a kid. I was a picky eater, and my mom, God bless her, finally just gave up. I frustrated her so much, that she finally just threw up her hands saying, Fine, make your own food! (Now she didnt stick entirely to this decision, but I saw this as a challenge.) I got really good at making easy recipes for kids like peanut butter sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, spaghetti, and the like. Eventually, I experimented and begin adding other easy recipes to my cookbook steadily getting to more complicated dishes. I believe that this early self-confidence led me down a road that added to my success pretty dramatically. For instance, when I went away to college, my best friend went to the same University, and I remember his mom pulling me aside while I was helping him pack and saying, Doug, you are so independent. I really worry about Greg. He doesnt even know how to do his laundry. Thats when it hit me that the things that I began to figure out when I was a kid helped me be more independent as a young adult.
So I began trying to instill that same type of confidence in my daughter, Colleen. She and her mom have always made birthday cakes together and the like, but I had an idea to teach her to make better food choices by letting her become a chef in her own right. The first easy recipe that we started out with was popcorn. Microwave popcorn is easy to make, but also easy to burn if you arent careful. When she was just five-years-old, I showed her how to pick the correct plate to put the popcorn bag on (some plates hold heat, so it takes longer for the popcorn to pop and will likely burn it) and how to listen for the pops to slow and take it out immediately to keep from burning it. She got so good, that my wife and I usually let her do the popping, because she was most consistent at making the popcorn perfectly. A couple of years ago, my wife bought her an oil popcorn popper to make fresh popcorn. If it has been a while since you had some real old-fashioned freshly popped popcorn (like at the movie theater), you are missing out. It is a nice treat. She started creating gourmet popcorn like kettle corn and caramel corn for her friends, and our house is the favorite to visit among her friends. Her friends often say things to her like, I wish I could do that. Every time that she hears this, her confidence in herself grows.
A while back, she started skipping breakfast. Now, I knew that was not a very healthy way to start the day, so one morning, I showed her how to make cinnamon toast. It was such a unique taste, that it quickly became a morning favorite. Next we conquered bacon and eggs. (I know, not the healthiest recipes, but it is a start.) What I have found is that the more easy recipes that she can create on her own, the better she gets at making healthy food choices and the more self-reliance and freedom that she feels.
If you want to improve the self-confidence in your kids and instill in them a sense of freedom, teach them easy recipes that they can create on their own, and you will be leading them down the road of independence.