Learning to cook, both for my daughter and with her
I recently separated and I have a shared parenting arrangement for my 8 year-old daughter. I'm almost ashamed to say that I never really learnt how to cook - always too busy doing something else - but now I have to and I actually want to, especially if I can do it together with my daughter as much as possible. One challenge is that she's a pretty fussy eater, because we never really challenged her to try new things, but I intend to change that.
Has anyone got any good any good tips from their own experience? Thanks!
Hi, I had some basic cooking skills but in the last year I've managed to up my cooking game quite a lot by following videos on YouTube. I find a lot of recipes posted in text form on website don't work out for me, but if somebody is making it in a video, they've clearly actually made it, often made it a few times to optimize it and I get much better results following those.
I'd say its a good idea to just try adding one new recipe once in a while, if you try to make 10 new recipes in a single week, it can become quite tedious. I tend to pick up one new recipe, then make quite a lot of it so it lasts a few days. Making one portion or four is virtually the same amount of effort.
For cooking with your daughter, its probably a good idea to get her involved in part of the process rather than the whole thing all at once. My daughter loves to help out in the kitchen but there have been a couple of accidents, gotta be careful with knives and heat... I always get her to make a fist when holding food to cut and she has a special knife for kids. In theory, the chance of her cutting a finger off is very low, but still need to be careful.
You could try one of the companies that sends you the ingredients for meals along with cooking instructions. This will get you into cooking, and if you hang onto the instructions, you can dispense with the company after a while and get your own ingredients, and once you are more confident, you can experiment.
Thanks for sharing and well done with your improving culinary skills. I have to confess I find baking far easier than cooking at times!
I would just like to pick up on your point of "fussy eating" and kindly say that for some children, they find different textures, smells and tastes very challenging. It maybe that your daughter struggles with this, and finds trying new foods very daunting. As a child I was like this, and as an adult I can become anxious before I go to a friends home for a meal, or out to a restaurant, unless I know what I am going to eat beforehand. Go back to infant school, I was forced to eat a plate full of salad with salad cream. As you can imagine, all kinds of different textures, cold wet sauces and smells. I do not eat salad now. This was more about the experience of course, but children can associate negative experiences and it can put them off. I was labelled as a fussy eater, and it has affected me, because my peers ( and I am now 50) have always laughed at my very plain diet and said things like "don't you get bored eating the same type of foods etc etc." I don't ! I enjoy the types of food that I like, I even survived 10 days volunteering in Uganda and somehow eating ok, so it can be done.
What I am trying to say in a very long winded way is, there maybe more to it with your daughter and her food. If it is simply that she doesn't like or want to try new foods, then some gentle encouragement and praise will go a long way. Try not to introduce too many new foods at once. I can eat foods I am unsure of if I have potato on my plate for example, if I have to be polite at a meal out. So, perhaps let her choose a food item she likes, then introduce a new one next to it and both of you try at the same time. When I was growing up I was expected to eat what was in front of me, no questions asked, and if I didn't, no more food until the next meal. BUT, I don't believe this is the best way to tackle food, and I would encourage you to talk with your daughter about the new food she is trying, how does it make her feel? does she like the texture? does it smell nice? what would she like to eat it with ?
My tastes have become more varied over the years, I eat a mild curry now, stronger flavoured foods, but I remain anxious in new food situations unless I know there's something I can eat, but I take simple steps - breathing exercises, looking at a restaurant menu in advance etc.
I wish you and your daughter well, and hope you have many happy eating experiences together! Perhaps watch something like BakeOff together too, as this may encourage her to want to make you something.
Kind regards, Parent Support Volunteer
@clarinet Thank you for this comprehensive and thoughtful answer. I have indeed read and heard that labelling kids as being difficult in some way can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I handn't thought about it in the case of "fussy eater" yet. And you're right, I can imagine that being forced to eat something you hate can be like a "mini-trauma" that actually makes things worse, not better, so I will definitely take your advice to heart and try to be a bit more patient. Thanks again!
@clarinet Thank you for this comprehensive and thoughtful answer. I have indeed read and heard that labelling kids as being difficult in some way can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I hadn't thought about it in the case of "fussy eater" yet. And you're right, I can imagine that being forced to eat something you hate can be like a "mini-trauma" that actually makes things worse, not better, so I will definitely take your advice to heart and try to be a bit more patient. Thanks again!