Monday, February 10, 2014

The Great Cooking Experiment

Did you grow up cooking?  I did not.  Don't get me wrong, my mom cooked a lot - I just did not spend a lot of time in the kitchen helping her.  That was during a time when I was heavily involved with dancing and was happy to just come home and be served a good meal.  Sad, but true.

One of my most fond memories of preparing to get married was my mom and me sitting around the kitchen table trying to write down all of her recipes so I could feed my then husband-to-be.  The problem was she never used a recipe so we spent a lot of time laughing at her directions of "a handful," "just a little," and "you will just know."

Needless to say, I have spent the past years making sure I not only wrote down the recipes I love and use often, but also making sure the girls could follow those recipes.  (The boys aren't quite ready) Luckily, my girls cook.  One enjoys baking and one prefers cooking meals, so it works out quite nicely when they are both home.

But some reason, I recently had a mommy panic moment - had I actually taught my girls how to plan meals from start to finish?  Could they budget, shop AND cook for a week for a family?

Thus began, The Great Cooking Experiment.

They were thrilled.  Ok, not really, but at least they were pretty good sports.

Their assignment: plan a week's worth of meals, shop for the ingredients on their own, stay within my budget, and cook for our family of 6 for a week.

Now before you think that this momma got off completely for the week, I will remind you that we homeschool and that means those kids still have to eat breakfast and lunch here.  Darn them. ;)  I often dream of sending them to public school just for lunch hour.

Anyway...with the help of our favorite cookbook Supper's On the Table, Come Home, they chose a week's menu, checked to see what staples and meat we already had and made their list.  Off they went to the store and back again - under budget!  I was so proud.  And amazed since my budgeting for meals has not be stellar lately.  I would have loved to seen them going up and down the aisles with the calculator, but decided that would embarrass them too much.  We did talk later about how the next time they could use their excess money (again, wow!) to stock up on things we use regularly that were on sale.

And then there was the cooking part of The Great Cooking Experiment.  Not much to report here. As I mentioned, my girls are can hold their own in a kitchen so this was not really where they needed the practice - though it was a fun break for me at night.  We had a week of delicious meals, one special dessert and even a special snack.  One of the great things about Rachel Master's cookbook, Supper's On the Table, Come Homeis that she gives start times for each step of the meal. In my experience, getting everything on the table at the same is the hardest trick to learn, so the times listed are a great help to newer cooks.  If you have not checked this cookbook out, I encourage you to do so.  I am getting nothing in return for telling you about it, just passing on what we love!

So, the final word on The Great Cooking Experiment?  I would say it was a huge success.  The girls say I got out of cooking for a week.  And the boys were well fed.  Not too bad for a mommy panic moment!

Next time, I think we are going to have them budget a monthly paycheck - rent, utilities, groceries, car payment, etc.  Who knew Home Economics could be so fun?  shhhh, don't tell my kids!

Never a dull moment with homeschooling!



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