With all of the talk about the decline of the kitchen last month, this month I am working with Wolf to share with you about reclaiming the kitchen and about my experience. I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed food. I think that for me, everything surrounding food, from the smells to the tastes, started in my childhood. As part of a large family, meals were our time to connect, as well as a time to eat. So, my enjoyment of food is also connected to being part of a loving family. Throughout my married life, there have been times when I have really gotten away from the kitchen, but I always return to my kitchen and meals together as a family.
When things get busy, we tend to eat out more often. Although I enjoy eating at restaurants, a home cooked meal makes more sense. Not only is it significantly less expensive, it is often better quality food that is more nutritious. A home-cooked meal can even take less time than driving to a restaurant, placing an order and waiting for your food to be cooked. Plus, preparing and eating a meal at home, allows time for my family to be together. The problem for me was that I didn’t know how to make some of our favorite restaurant food, such as steak, but I was determined to figure out how to cook a steak with a perfectly seasoned, seared outside and a tender, juicy inside. I tried making steaks on the grill, steaks under the broiler and even tried a recipe for steak in a slow cooker. Finally, I found a recipe online for how to cook a perfect steak in a pan and now my daughter says that my steaks are better than the ones from a high-end restaurant.
Besides making steak, I’ve learned how to make many things from juicy cheeseburgers, parmesan crusted chicken and fettuccini alfredo, to buttercream frosting, crème brulee and macarons. Not only did I learn how to make these things, I am trying to teach my kids how to make their favorite meals. So, the next time my girls wanted steak for dinner, I had them cook their own steaks, while I stood alongside them showing them how to do it.
If they can do it, so can you! I don’t have formal training. I’m not a chef. I am a mother, a wife and a lover of food, just like you.
Tips for reclaiming the kitchen:
- Give yourself the time and space to cook in the kitchen. Try to think of it as a fun experiment. Sometimes you are going to be successful and other times your experiments are going to fail. All the while, you will be learning!
- The internet is full of resources and recipes. The Wolf website is a great place to find recipes, as well as tips for reclaiming your kitchen.
- Talk to your family what they want for dinner. Then, narrow it down to a meal or two, making it a group decision.
- Make a list before going to the grocery store. Include everything you will need for the meal from the main dish to the sides. Don’t forget about things like spices and condiments you may need. I like to make my list on my cell phone (because I don’t forget it at home like a paper list) and I delete items as I put them into my cart.
- Take a quick peek in your cupboards to see if the staples you typically have on hand are still stocked, and make sure they are still fresh. Replace the things you will need for your meal.
- As a family, choose which evening you will have your meal. Pick an evening or time when everyone will be home. If everyone puts the family dinner on their calendar, they won’t accidentally schedule something else during that time.
- Let each family member help with preparing the meal. Younger children can scrub veggies and tear lettuce. Teens can peel potatoes and slice carrots. Everyone can help set the table.
- Sit down at the table together; turn off the television and put cell phones on silent.
- Talk to each other about how your week is going, about something you are looking forward to or about your favorite family memories. Don’t only talk, but also listen to what each family member has to say.
- Enjoy your food, enjoy your time together as a family and then do it again next week!
Now, it’s your turn. I would love to hear how you’ve reclaimed the kitchen!
Please leave a comment below and check out this great video from Wolf.
This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Wolf blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.” Please note that new FTC blogger guidelines recommend posting the disclosure clearly at the top and at the end of sponsored blog posts. Disclosure Guidelines:http://ftc.gov/os/2013/03/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf
My children are grown but when they lived at home I cooked 4 nights a week. I wasn’t a particularly good cook but I really wanted my children to have well balanced meals and for us to spend time together. Although meals weren’t always fun, generally they were. Our sons loved to talk and tell us what was on their minds, or discuss their opinions on whatever topic they wanted to express. Today it seems few people cook at home. My teenage granddaughter told me her biggest wish is for her parents to eat dinner with her as a family. She is an only child. I expressed this to my son but it only lasted a short while. Recently a young pre-teen niece told me the same thing. She wanted to sit down for dinner, at the table, at night for dinner. Kids want to connect with their family, especially with their parents. It doesn’t matter if you can cook or not, even a frozen meal together is better then eating separately. And meals don’t have to be fancy. The point is spending time together at mealtime. Wake up parents. You are doing a disservice to your kids.
I have always loved being in the kitchen, but at one time I was losing interest. Taking a couple of cooking classes with new ideas and friends, gave us the inspiration we needed.
That is a great idea, Barb! One of my sisters just suggested that a group of us take a cooking class together!
Andi @ The Weary Chef says
This is really a beautiful post, Tonia, the photos AND the sentiment. I completely agree with you on a home cooked meal often being better than eating out. I’m always sad when I see the bill at a restaurant because I usually don’t think it was worth it!
I used to enjoy eating out so much more! Maybe it is a sign of getting old! 😉 We still meet up with friends at restaurants, but it is more about going out than it is about the food.
Heather / girlichef says
Nice, this is a great list. My biggest thing is making a list. I do it on paper, however…I’d never use it if it was on my phone. Letting everybody choose what they want one day per week is huge, too. This is going to be inspiring to so many people!
Thanks Heather! I really like making lists on paper and that is how I write my recipes and blog notes, but I kept forgetting my grocery list at home, so I had to switch to making one on my phone.
My kids are grown and out of the nest now, but I still have tips from then and now, and ideas for when I’m busy or my husband is working late. I always have a few quick meal ideas and ingredients for those busy nights…pizza dough, sauce and some toppings. Pasta and a salad is another one. My kids always loved chili dogs and chips. For a well thought out dinner, I look for recipes I want to try and add the ingredients I don’t have to my grocery list. I try 1 or 2 new things each week. Also, for busy nights you can put the entire meal in a casserole dish or pan and keep it covered and on warm in the oven until everyone is home to eat. Lastly, keep the meals interesting…my boys didn’t like any veggies except corn and green beans. On the nights I had something other than that, I substituted cut up fruit, even canned peaches and pineapple. They were in heaven!
Thank you for your tips and I loved the comments! 🙂
Thanks for the great tips, Jane! My mom almost always served cut up fruit or applesauce as dessert. My oldest recently moved out and as my other two kids get older, I am wondering how things will change in our dinner routine. It will be hard to make meals for just the two of us!
Martha@A Family Feast says
I’m totally with you on #8! Turning off the TV and cell phones has made a huge difference in our family!
Yes! It makes conversation so much easier! Thanks Martha!
Ashlyn @ Belle of the Kitchen says
These are all such fabulous tips, Tonia! I love getting my kids involved in the kitchen. I know it will pay off one day when I can send them in there to make their own food! 😉
So true and better yet, they might even make YOU a meal when they get older! 🙂
Nutmeg Nanny says
Getting into the kitchen is something I know a lot of people (myself included!) struggle with. These tips are so helpful 🙂
It is a struggle for me often times too. It really helps me when I plan ahead!
Krista @ Joyful Healthy Eats says
haha.. #7 is key! I went to the grocery store picked up the things I needed for dinner that night started to cook and realized i was out of olive oil! Bummer! Great tips Tonia!
I have totally done that! Luckily I have a grocery store less than a mile from my house!
Stephanie Stuart says
#7 is my favorite. My kids LOVE helping in the kitchen! I always say “Well, only if you’re really good” hahah works every time
That’s perfect! I’m always surprised at how willing they are to help in the kitchen. I think they like that they get to work with mom (and/or dad) and they feel really useful.
Beverley Cheng says
I think these tips are so important and necessary especially for a family. When I still lived at home, we had dinner every evening as a family! I can’t imagine growing up and eating out all the time.
Thanks Beverly! I’m so glad to hear that your family at together while you live at home!
heather @french press says
I just love this Tonia! I cannot believe how many of my kids friends never have dinner together as a family – we have dinner together every night of the week. Planning of course is key, and I love having help in the kitchen (most of the time) weekly meal prep on Sunday really helps me a lot
Wow! That is awesome! It doesn’t work out every night for us because we often have plans in the evenings. But we do it as often as we can. Thanks Heather!
Sheena @ Hot Eats and Cool Reads says
These are all such great tips!! I really need to get my daughter in the kitchen more often!
Thanks Sheena! I’m always kind of surprised at how willing they are to help with the cooking!
Growing up, we always had dinner together as a family, and we did just what you described – minus finding recipes on the internet 🙂 We had a list of the dishes my dad could make taped to the inside of one cupboard, and we took turns picking dinner. On weeknights we’d go around the table and each tell something we learned that day in school, and then one of us would make my dad tell something he learned at work. I’m feeling a little nostalgic now!
Sounds like fun!! How cool that your dad could cook. My dad had one specialty…French toast. 🙂
Thanks for the tips. It really is important to learn how to cook quality food at home and pass down the learning to children. Our family needs to get better at sitting down together and turning off all electronics!
Thanks Lisa! We try to at least a few times a week, but things get busy and it doesn’t always work out.
These are great tips! I think #7 is especially important… I’ve always had my kids helping in the kitchen and they are great cooks!
That is awesome! It is a great bonding time too!