Sally Kuzemchak is a registered dietitian nutritionist and mom of two boys. She blogs at the popular Real Mom Nutrition and is the author of the cookbook Dinnertime Survival Guide. She recently decided to take up The Kids Cook Monday with her family so we took the opportunity to ask this nutrition pro a few questions about the ins and outs of cooking with kids!
Cooking must be a huge part of your life as a nutritionist, but your sons have only recently shown enthusiasm for getting into the kitchen with you. Why do you think they weren’t interested up until now?
I will say they have always been interested in helping me bake–and I bake a lot! But in terms of cooking, I actually do blame myself for their lack of interest because at some point, cooking dinner became a kind of escape for me. I give my sons a hour of screen time between 5-6 and use that time to be alone in the kitchen and unwind. I really enjoy it! Even if my husband gets home from work early and offers to help, I often turn it down. It’s just become a time I look forward to. I listen to podcasts and enjoy the process. But I know that in the long run, it’s not helping them develop an appreciation and love for cooking–something I feel strongly that they should have. I have always said I wanted to raise men who could cook–so now it’s up to me to make that happen.
You’ve long been an advocate of Meatless Monday. What is it about The Kids Cook Monday that works for your family?
I like the structure of it. It’s easy to forget things, especially as moms when we are juggling approximately 638 things at one time! By now, my family knows all about Meatless Monday and knows what to expect–and now they’ll know all about Kids Cook Monday!
Will your kids help select the recipes you make together? What are some of their favorite types of meals to make and where do you go to look for recipes?
Absolutely! My older son recently got a kids cookbook from the Culinary Institute of America called The Young Chef and he immediately marked up the pages will all kinds of recipes he wanted to make. He’s already made quite a few of them, and I’ve loved seeing him get a really sense of pride in putting something together. When he started cooking, my younger son wanted to learn a few easy things to make too.
Their favorite meals are the classics: tacos and burritos, pastas, baked chicken with mashed potatoes. My older son also loves stir-fries. We frequently use the cookbook I wrote with Cooking Light called Dinnertime Survival Guide because those recipes are very family-friendly and most of them were tested on my own kids before being chosen for the book.
As a nutritionist and a mom, why do you think it’s important to teach kids to cook?
I consider it a life skill on par with things like knowing how to do laundry or maintain a budget. It’s so important for kids to know how to nourish themselves well, and meals cooked at home tend to be much healthier than meals eaten away from home. Learning to cook also gives children an appreciation for different kinds of foods, and I’ve already seen that with my kids–they’re more willing to try things when they’ve had a hand at making it.
Sally posted about starting The Kids Cook Monday on her blog. Check out the post and follow her adventures on her Facebook and Instagram pages. Use the hashtag #KidsCookMonday to post about your family’s cooking adventures, too!