New Year's Resolutions for Cooking with Kids

 Resolve to cook together just a little more this year. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Resolve to cook together just a little more this year. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Welcome to 2017. If you're like me, you're still thinking about your New Year's resolutions and how you're going to accomplish everything this year (just one of the many things you're running behind on ... like this post!).

And I'm guessing that a lot of you have a couple parenting-related resolutions (be more patient, be more present) and health-related goals (eat more vegetables, give sugar the boot).

Well, here's something kind of cool — when you cook with your kids, you can tackle parenting and health together. I've been thinking about some things I want to accomplish in the kitchen with my son this year, and I thought I'd share some ideas on New Year's resolutions as they relate to cooking.

Well, here’s something kind of cool — when you cook with your kids, you can tackle parenting and health together.

First things first: I'm not a big resolution maker, per se. As I've gotten older, I've learned the importance of sustainability. And I've also learned that while January 1 represents a clean slate, it's also kind of arbitrary — you can start making changes in your life anytime you want. But for me, the new year is a time to pause and reflect. I like to ask myself about how I want my life or my response to life to be different this trip around the sun. I like to set goals and assign myself tasks — preferably in achievable bite-sized chunks throughout the year.

As I'm considering our own family's needs and what I personally hope to achieve, here are a few ideas for you to consider too.

How often do you want to cook with your kids?

I've made a personal goal of cooking with my son at least once a week. That can be dinner or cookies or Sunday brunch. Whatever. 

Are there certain kitchen skills you want to teach this year?

My son is just 2 years old. He's smart and amazing and he now wants to do everything for himself. I think we're on the cusp of being able to teach actual skills, but at the moment, cooking is less about imparting skills and more about conveying a love and appreciation for cooking and a healthy relationship with food. As I think to the future, I'd like to plan to teach him maybe three or four kitchen skills each year as he gets old. And look, I'm not a master chef by any stretch. I can barely hold my own in the kitchen, but very, very basic skills will set him on a path of self-sufficiency. 

Remember, skills can run the gamut: knife skills, how to cook pasta, using a slow cooker, sharpening knives, cleaning beans, shucking corn, making ice cream, measuring/weighing ingredients, using a mixer, etc. There is no limit to what this could entail. 

Do you want to try new recipes?

It's easy to get stuck in our routines. And there's something cool about tradition. But variety is the spice of life. My goal is to try one new recipe a month. I can tell you that 12 recipes for the whole year will be only a tiny fraction of the recipes that I'll find in magazines and on websites. But for me, I know that realistic goals are key to success and continued motivation, and one a month? I can do that.

But for me, I know that realistic goals are key to success and continued motivation, and one a month? I can do that.

What about new foods?

Again, we get stuck in our ways. For the longest time, the only chicken my husband and I ate was chicken breast and the occasional batch of buffalo wings. Then, it became clear my son preferred thighs, and now we  incorporate thighs and wings and breast and legs into our meal planning. 

This year, my goal is to incorporate fish. I have a shellfish allergy, and I'm not a fan of fish. But I know it's healthy, and I think part of my aversion relates to a fear around not knowing how to prepare it well. That ends in 2017, people. 

Could you stand to plan better (with your kids)?

Um, seriously, who couldn't plan better? I used to be better, but then a Sprouts market went in walking-distance to my house. And now, I go to the store even more ... because I can. Plus, I'm pretty decent at just throwing things together so I don't plan very well. But I want to plan better. And as my son gets older, I want to involve him too. But for this year, my focus is going to be on meal planning and writing actual grocery lists (as opposed to what they are now — "chicken, veggies, fruit, almond milk"). 

So, what do you want to do in the kitchen with your kids this year? Share in the comments!