Slow down… and teach your children too

Recycla has been working on a fun project with her daughters this summer: She’s teaching them how to cook. And by cooking, Recycla means cooking real food from scratch, not assembling pre-packaged ingredients.

While there are plenty of people who default to eating McFood or mixing up boxes of this ‘n’ that because they think it’s quicker or easier or less expensive, Recycla is here to tell that it’s not so. Every day across America, thousands of people make the same choice. They opt for convenience over nutrition, flavor, and cost.

There is a better option — slow food. And that is what Recycla has been teaching her daughters.

Slow food is good food.

Slow food is real food.

Slow food is healthy food.

Slow food is less expensive than fast food.

The Slow Food movement began in Italy over 20 years ago as a reaction to the culinary horrors of fast food and has since spread to nearly all corners of the globe. The objectives of the Slow Food movement include, but are not limited to:

  • educating consumers about the risks of fast food
  • educating citizens about the drawbacks of commercial agribusiness and factory farms
  • lobbying against government funding of genetic engineering
  • lobbying against the use of pesticides
  • teaching gardening skills to students and prisoners
  • and more

Slow Food is about bringing back traditions that sustained humans for centuries but that are now being lost to the conveniences of fast food.

What can you do?

The most important thing is not to eat McCrap.  Instead, prepare your own meals.  Easier said than done, right? However, even if you cook only a couple of nights a week, it’s better than nothing. And these don’t have to be lavish, multi-course affairs.  Pasta tossed with some chopped tomatoes and freshly-grated Parmesan will take 20-25 minutes.  Omelettes and frittatas take 20 minutes.  A Greek salad can take 15 minutes.

And that is what Recycla is teaching her daughters. While she has long involved them in the kitchen and the girls already know a lot, this summer the girls are helping her plan meals for the week; they are going with her to the go to the grocery store, farmers’ market, and/or local organic butcher to get the food supplies; and then they are cooking alongside her in the kitchen. So far, the girls have made dinners as simple as pasta tossed with frozen vegetables to the slightly-more-involved baked chicken and mashed potatoes to the even-more-involved spaghetti and meatballs. Each meal has involved simple ingredients — no pre-packaged foods — and nothing has taken inordinate amounts of time to prepare.

Recycla will admit that it’s a bit more work for her to show her girls step-by-step what they need to do than if she just does the cooking herself. However, all humans need to eat; therefore, they need to learn how to cook. Recycla is going beyond just teaching her daughters how to follow a recipe — she’s explaining to them HOW and WHY things are in the kitchen so that they’ll understand the basic processes of cooking. She’s also teaching them basic kitchen skills that everyone should know — for example, how to use a knife properly and safely. (By the way, Recycla highly recommends In the Green Kitchen by Alice Waters, which teaches readers all the necessary basic kitchen skills.)

At this point, Recycla’s pre-teen daughters know how to do a lot, but there’s always more that they can learn.Eventually, she knows that they’ll be able to prepare a meal from start to finish without her input and she knows that day is coming soon.

In the larger scheme of things, Recycla is not only giving her daughters valuable life skills, she’s also creating memories with them — baking a birthday cake for their grandfather, inviting some friends over and working as a team to make ice cream and brownies for their sleepover, making their father’s favorite dinner and listening to him shower them with compliments for a delicious meal, and more. The girls are having a lot of fun, which is important because cooking should not be a burden.

Tell the Eco Women: Do you cook? If so, how much? How old were you when you learned how to cook?


5 thoughts on “Slow down… and teach your children too

  1. Yep, I cook. I can’t remember when I learned, I was always ‘helping’ my mum in the kitchen ever since I can remember. I’m teaching my girls now. We’re starting slowly: making cookies and pancake batter (both from scratch), and then pouring the pancakes and flipping them. And they can both make Kraft dinner. I know that my home-made mac and cheese is ten times better and better for them, but I can’t convince the girls of that, lol. When it comes to packaged foods, I pick my battles. I do most of my cooking from scratch, but I don’t beat myself up for the occasional frozen pizza or breaded chicken breasts in my freezer. The girls eat lots of fruit and carrots, cukes and celery with meals.

  2. I love to cook and do so more nights than I don’t. I also can’t remember when I learned- I was always welcome in my mom’s kitchen and she would always make sure there was something I could do to help prepare our family meal.

  3. We cook almost all our meals. My husband does the meat when it is meat only (if it is a stew, I do it) and requires fire and danger. The danger is self-imposed. It is not hard to cook, it just requires some planning. It helps that I do not have a job or kids – I have time to chop and prep. If I were busier, there would be a lot more scrambled eggs, I suppose, although even when I was working, I cooked almost everything I ate.

    I remember helping my mother make chocolate chip cookies when I was six years old. My helping was sitting on the kitchen floor, holding the bowl in my legs. I learned to cut up a chicken and an onion and to separate eggs by the time I was 11, which meant I was really annoyed at a vacation cooking school where they spent considerable time on each of these skills.

  4. Oh, yes. I learned to cook at the age of ten and cooked for my family of 5 most of the time by then (my Mom had gone back to work). I too love to share my love of cooking with my kids. I have taught all 3 of my sons and daughter the major skills; and one son and my daughter have really taken a liking to it and gone the few steps further and help almost daily in the kitchen. Almost all of our meals are made from scratch simply because we live in such a rural area. I do sometimes cheat and take help from frozen items…come on, I am only human-ha!

  5. I used to love watching my Dad cook our dinner, and then slowly and surely being allowed to help – first with cutting up the ingredients, then being allowed to cook some of it, and eventually preparing and cooking the entire meal from start to finish. When I went to University, I was shocked that I was one of the only people in my house that could actually cook a proper meal. Now I’m in my twenties, and it still shocks me that some of my friends would not have a clue how to cook a proper, nutritious, healthy meal, and instead would rather go and get some fried chicken from the take-away on the corner. Gross!

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