Psychologists say that the things that children remember most from childhood are:
1. Time spent outdoors
2. Time spent on vacation with family
3. And…time spent around the dinner table.
I grew up on a farm in central Missouri. I have 6 siblings, 2 older brothers and 4 younger sisters. My mother cooked 3 big hot meals every single day, in a tiny kitchen with NO DISHWASHER!
I remember some of my earliest memories were of standing in the kitchen watching my mother cook and her telling me little things to do, like stir the gravy, or add 2 cups of milk to this, or peel those potatoes, and on and on. I loved it! It was the safest place I could ever imagine being. The only other place I can think of in which I felt that same safety and security is being in my Granny’s kitchen. She wouldn’t really let me help her as much as just watch her. But I watched these two incredible strong and hardworking women make this food completely from scratch that would bring so much joy to huge tables full of family members. And if it took 2-4 hours to prepare with love, it likewise took about 30 minutes to devour, with gratitude!
Now, don’t roll your eyes, or sigh, or report me to women’s lib groups….but we were also the women who not only prepared and served these meals, but we also cleaned them up while the men excited to the TV room! But you know what? That was our norm. We were farmers, and very old fashioned. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I don’t. My 2 daughters are also following in those footsteps. They are both learning to cook. They can already at ages 12 and 10, make meals such as baked chicken, fried zucchini, mashed potatoes, salad, fried corn, pork chops, spaghetti & meatballs, lima beans and quiche! My husband and children appreciate this so much and are always bragging on this. My son Avery said to me the other day, “mom, I want you to teach me to cook all of my favorite things that you make before I leave for college!” And of course, I will gladly do just that! By cooking for your kids; you help them to make good choices when they aren’t with you. I have somewhat made my kids food snobs because they prefer my home cooking over fast food and most restaurant food.
Not to mention the emotional and psychological benefits that come with feeding your family and sitting around the table…doing something radical- are you ready for this??? TALKING! TALKING! TALKING TO YOUR CHILDREN. Checking in with their hearts, no phones, no tv, no distractions other than “pass the butter please.”
And being a working mom is no excuse! I’m a working mom who travels. I have a housekeeper who works approx 3 days a week, but the other time, I am cooking, shopping, doing laundry, etc….
My tips for cooking at home:
1. Always keep meat in the freezer. Pull something out in the am to thaw.
2. Always have frozen dinner rolls ready to make.
3. Always have salad and feta or goat cheese and croutons and dressing. Throw together a salad every meal.
4. Always have canned veggies
5. Always have spaghetti and spaghetti sauce and frozen meatballs.
6. Always have potatoes.
Those would be my basic go to’ so that you can always whip something together in 30-40 minutes.
And if you don’t work, try to make dinner during the day while kids are at school, so it’s out of the way and you can go to sports activities knowing that you have something wholesome already made when you get home.
And now, if I can’t be home, I know that my girls can prepare a whole dinner for the family. It makes them, and me so proud!
Back to basics.