Archives for Cooking with and for Kids

Establishing a kitchen routine

We have a saying in our home: “A meal isn’t finished until the kitchen is clean.”

Since all three members of our family typically eat three meals a day at home, keeping the kitchen clean is especially important. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have dishes to use the next day or any counter space to prepare our food.

We haven’t always been great at keeping the kitchen clean after a meal. Our first couple years of marriage my husband and I were downright awful with the chore. We weren’t dirty (food made it back into the refrigerator and dishes were rinsed), but we weren’t tidy. As a result, we ate out at restaurants a great deal.

Once we trained ourselves to clean up immediately after a meal, we started eating at home more often, and mealtime stress was reduced.

Not every family has the same needs, but this is how our family handles kitchen chores:

Breakfast

  • First adult to kitchen puts tea kettle on stove top to boil and unloads clean dishes from dishwasher.
  • Second adult to kitchen gets son booster seated and bibbed, makes son’s breakfast, and makes adults’ coffee.
  • Both adults make and eat their breakfasts while son continues to eat breakfast (our little man is a slow eater).
  • One adult loads breakfast dishes into the dishwasher and wipes down counters.
  • Other adult cleans son, table, son’s bib, wipes down son’s booster seat, and sweeps floor.

Lunch

  • One adult makes lunch for family and puts preparation materials in dishwasher as finishes with them (pots, pans, etc.).
  • Other adult gets son in booster seat and bibbed. Sets table.
  • Everyone eats.
  • Adult who set the table loads lunch dishes into the dishwasher and wipes down counters.
  • Other adult cleans son, table, son’s bib, wipes down son’s booster seat, and sweeps floor.

Dinner

  • One adult makes dinner for family (typically the adult who didn’t make lunch) and puts preparation materials in dishwasher as finishes with them (pots, pans, etc.).
  • Other adult gets son in booster seat and bibbed. Sets table.
  • Everyone eats.
  • Adult who set the table loads dinner dishes into the dishwasher, wipes down counters, and runs the dishwasher.
  • Other adult cleans son, table, son’s bib, wipes down son’s booster seat, and sweeps floor.

Because there are three of us eating three meals a day at home, we have to run the dishwasher every night. If you eat one meal a day at home, you and/or your family might not have to run the dishwasher as often.

If one of us needed a packed lunch every day, the lunch would be made at the same time dinner was being made. This responsibility could either belong to the person making the meal or it could belong to the person setting the table. If you have teenage children, they could easily make lunch while parents make dinner.

The idea is to get into a routine where everyone is participating in meal preparation and cleanup, and at the end of the meal the kitchen is ready for the next time someone wishes to cook.

What is your/your family’s kitchen routine? Are your responsibilities clearly defined so the process is efficient and helpful? If you don’t have a mealtime routine, could you/your family benefit from having one? Share your experience in the comments.

Assorted links for February 23, 2011

Interesting and informative news relating to food and cooking:

  • The past month’s events in the Middle East and northern Africa are impacting the trading price of wheat, corn and soybeans. Expect to see lower prices on these goods in U.S. grocery stores in the coming months. However, conflict in the Ivory Coast is making the price of chocolate hit a 32-year high. Learn more: “Middle East turmoil fuels sell-off in some food prices.”
  • Coffee prices are rising, and you’re going to start noticing them at the grocery store and at coffee shops.
  • PBS Kids television has launched a new section of their website called Kitchen Explorers. The blog has specific advice for getting kids interested in cooking and child nutrition.
  • Ellen Tarlin at Slate.com has recently published a fantastic series exploring why she doesn’t eat well: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

Share your favorite food-related news in the comments.

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